Last Saturday at the Russellville Cyclone Invitational, Maumelle finally got a chance to compete against the defending state 4A boys cross country champion Heber Springs. While it gave the Hornets a chance to see how they measure up, it wasn’t a true barometer.

Maumelle finished fifth behind fourth-place Heber Springs and were 31 points behind the defending champs. While sophomore Sean Adams and junior Zach Williams ran well, junior Cody Motes, senior Adam Hoy and junior Darrius Thomas didn’t have their best days. Additionally, sophomore Hayden Anderson spent the week prior on a mission trip in Haiti and missed a week of training.

"Our overall goal is to win the 4A state championship, so we are going to have to find a way to close the gap on Heber Springs to be competitive with them," Maumelle Coach Nick Taylor said. "The boys have been training very well lately so I think many of them believed they would roll up to Russellville and beat them. Hopefully, they found out today that Heber is a very good team and taking the state championship from them is going to be very difficult."

Besides Heber Springs, the only teams ahead of Maumelle were 6A or 7A teams and include Little Catholic in first, Russellville in second and Bryant in third place. The Hornets did finish ahead of the defending 5A champs, Little Rock Christian, by 48 points, and 15 teams competed in race.

Adams finished 20th with a time of 17:49, and Hoy was 24th in a time of 18:04. Anderson was next and in 28th place with a time of 18:16, Williams was in 40th place in a time of 18:59, and Thomas rounded out the top five in 61st place with a time of 19:30. Motes was the Hornets’ next finisher followed by sophomore Bret Sherkenback, junior Xzavier Pettus and junior Stephen Edwards.

"Cody is usually our third or fourth runner and usually not too far behind Sean," Taylor said. "I was disappointed with our focus and team unity. Heber Springs is always consistent, and I need to try and figure out why we aren’t consistent."

The girls didn’t have enough members to compete as a team, but sophomore Caroline Sweet finished 24th in a time of 23:29. Sophomore Jordan Marshall was 56th with a time of 25:34, and junior Akeia Joyner placed 64th in a time of 25:57.

The Hornets compete Saturday in Fayetteville in the Chile Pepper, the biggest race of the season. The college division takes place before the high school division, and the Chile Pepper gives the Hornets a chance to see a venue with a big crowd and a multitude of teams.