BENTONVILLE — Southside’s David Price and Northside’s Andarious Jones have been buddies since the eighth grade. They had siblings who went to school together plus a mutual goal necessitated some kind of relationship.
It was only fitting, then, the two finished first and second in the shot put at the 7A State Track Meet on a cold, wet day at Tiger Athletic Complex.
Price didn’t compete in a full season’s worth of events for Southside and still entered as the prohibitive favorite. He won the event at the Bentonville Tiger Relays and the James Lemley Quad City meet in March. When Price didn’t enter meets at Russellville or Van Buren, it was Jones who took first place.
They were close all season and Thursday was no different. Price’s throw of 50-feet, 4 1/2 inches was a quarter of an inch farther than Jones’.
“And he beat me on his last throw,” Jones said. “My goal this year was to beat David Price. I came a little short. He beat me by a quarter of an inch. He beat me on his last throw. But I’m proud of myself, too. From last year, seventh place, to this year coming in second, it’s a big accomplishment.”
The two seniors have had the same coach and practiced together since they were 14. The only way it could have been better, for Jones, anyway, would have been to switch their finishes in their final meet together.
“He was kind of frustrated because usually he beats me by a lot more,” Jones said with a smile. “But this track meet, it was a good competition between me and him.”
Price had also qualified in the discus, but had to return to Southside almost immediately after the shot put finished.
The weather may have stunted the times in most of the races. All track events except the 2-mile relay had final heats in the late afternoon and evening when the rain began consistently falling and the temperatures dropped to near 40 degrees. Several runners finished with slower times in the final heats than the preliminaries.
Bentonville won the girls team title for the fifth time in the last seven years. Fayetteville (2010-11) is the only other school to win the girls’ meet since 2006.
The Lady Tigers had to overcome a Fayetteville lead after the day’s first session. But by the time Jody Knight and Taylor Mahone picked up second and third in the 100-meter and first place in the 4x100 relay, Bentonville would not turn back.
Southside’s Sydney Wells cruised to a state championship in the 400-meter dash. Her nearest competitors were within a stride halfway through before she opened a dominating lead in the backstretch.
Wells, her sister, Brooke, Aaliyah Grant and Alondra Gomez helped add points to the Lady Rebels total in the meet’s final event, the 4x400 relay, by finishing third. Southside girls finished fifth overall in the girls meet.
Van Buren’s Serena Shores was in second place in her heat when she stumbled over the penultimate hurdle in the 300-meter race and didn’t get up to finish the race. She fell onto the top part of her shoulder near the collarbone and was gingerly moving it when she was carted away.
Rogers Heritage led all day for the boys’ title, but needed some luck to hold on to it. Bentonville trailed the War Eagles by seven points entering the 4x400 relay, the night’s final event. A first place finish gave the Tigers enough points to leapfrog or, at worst, tie Heritage and when the War Eagles crossed the finish in the back, the celebration began.
Official tallies, though, showed, two teams were disqualified from the race and it gave Heritage enough of a points bump - from sixth place to fourth place - to capture the school’s first track state championship.
Other Van Buren finishes
Maria Santillana finished third in the shot put (35-0).
Rebekah Gibbons was also third in the 1,600-meter run (5:28.07) and the 3,200 (12:14.0).
The Lady Pointers finished with 29 points.