Rogers High cross country preview

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Rogers' Braden Sell comes into the finish line Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, during the 28th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the ceremony and the game.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE
Rogers’ Braden Sell comes into the finish line Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, during the 28th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the ceremony and the game.

Rogers High cross country coach Carlton Efurd acknowledged his boys team ran probably a coaches’ and runner’s dream as eight of nine ran personal best times to lead the Mounties to their 19th state title last fall.<br><br>

“Oh man, it was fun,” said Efurd, who is beginning his 31st year at Rogers High. “That kind of thing doesn’t happen often that’s for sure. Running that fast on that course, too. Running a PR at the Chile Pepper or even our home course you could see because it’s a faster course.”<br><br>

The Mounties will have to replace seniors Jessie Ramirez, Diego Contreras and David Salinas. They earned the moniker the three amigos for their competitive nature and leadership and buoyed Rogers to the state title as it finished with four in the top 10.<br><br>

Senior twin brothers Tyler and Andrew Bender return with state meet experience, along with junior Braden Sell, who finished 10th last season. Senior Christian Salazar is among the top group, but the fifth spot is up for grabs, Efurd said. <br><br>

Sophomores Connor Austin, Andrew Flister, William Pender and senior Matt Smith are among the group vying for that fifth spot.<br><br>

“I’m very happy with our attitude and work ethic,” Efurd said. “Our practices and training have been at a high level. Now, whether that equates to competing at a high level on race day, we’ll see.”<br><br>

This year’s group, albeit different, has talent, Efurd said. But they are still adjusting to new roles.<br><br>

“They are a good mix,” Efurd said. “The seniors are experienced and you hope they progress and step up. They’ve got a tall order to fill to run with Fayetteville. They are loaded with almost everybody back from last year.”<br><br>

“When you graduate three solid competitors, good leaders, like we did, you’re trying to figure out who the leaders will be. As a coach you’re kind of waiting to see. You don’t want them to have a title like captain. You want them to earn it.”<br><br>

 

 

Rogers Lady Mounties

Halle and Aubre Gilreath will leave big shoes to fill similar to the three amigos on the boys side, Efurd said.<br><br>

The twin sisters finished second and third, respectively, to help the Lady Mounties to a third-place team finish at the Class 7A state meet last season. But they return several with state meet experience.<br><br>

NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE Rogers' Amanda Sakalares comes into the finish line Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, during the 28th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the ceremony and the game.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/ANDY SHUPE
Rogers’ Amanda Sakalares comes into the finish line Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, during the 28th annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival at Agri Park in Fayetteville. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the ceremony and the game.r><br>

Emily Efurd, Carlton’s daughter, was the top returning finisher as she took eighth, but Anna Jeffcoat is probably Rogers’ No. 1 runner currently, after she enjoyed a strong track season in the spring.<br><br>

Junior Amanda Sakalares also ran in the Lady Mounties’ top five at the state meet a year ago, along with sophomore Tristyn Wann. <br><br>

Carlton Efurd is excited about his team’s chances to contend for a state title, which would be the 18th for the Lady Mounties and first since winning back-to-back in 2010 and 2011.<br><br>

“We have been close the last few year, but we hope the girls can get over the hump,” Efurd said. “We lost our top two and those are big shoes to fill, but they are going to be in the hunt. I know that.

“We feel like we will have a solid five runners. The last couple of years it’s been four and then the fifth was back. We hope they can do like the guys did last year and all perform on the right day together.”<br><br>

Senior Olivia Breazeale has caught Efurd’s eye, while freshman Ali Nachtigal should also be among the top group.<br><br>

Paul Boyd

Paul Boyd

Sports Reporter at NWA Media
Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for NWA Media. His primary beat is Rogers Heritage, as well as West Fork and Gentry.
Paul Boyd

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