Last Saturday's state indoor championship meet was electric, producing some of the best marks the Natural State has ever seen.
Before we head full steam towards the outdoor season, let's take a close look at some of the top performances from last weekend's championship event!
Matthew Shelly secures the Distance Double
While all events at the state championships are scored by classification (1A/2A, 3A, 4A, 5A, 6A), awarding medals to the top finishers in each division, each race is seeded together regardless of division which is one of the few times each season some of the top distance athletes are given the opportunity to race one another.
Not only did Shelly take down the fastest runners in 6A, but the strongest Natural State had to offer including NXR South Champion Joseph Bariola, Missouri Commit River Hardman, and teammate James American Horse.
In a loaded 1,600m field comprised of the best distance runners in the state, Shelly ran a new personal best time of 4:15.51. Not to be outdone, Shelly doubled back later and ran away from the field in the 3,200m, running a 9:26.47, collecting his third state title in just four months.
Lilly Beshears holds off Haley Loewe
In a battle we had been anticipating since last spring, the duel between two-time cross country state champion Haley Loewe against last season's state champion Lilly Beshears in the 1,600m finally happened over the weekend and it did not disappoint.
Loewe took over the pacing duties at 400m but was taken over by a strong move by Beshears with three laps to go. Loewe reassumed the lead when the two took the bell lap and while it looked like the senior would get the best of the sophomore, it was the star from Rogers who came roaring around the final turn to win her second straight state title.
The two would return for the 3,200m later in the day, but this time it would be Loewe who would walk away as state champion, running 11:04.78 to Beshears 11:10.24, which would be enough to finish second.
The Boys 200m steals the show
If we can take anything away from Saturday's state meet it's that the Boys 200m might be the most loaded event in the state.
While Sloan Jones recorded the fastest time of the day, running a 22.07, the Central Arkansas commit was not alone near at top of the results. Seven boys recorded times of 22.52 or faster on Saturday:
Sloan Jones (22.07)
Kayden Brown (22.13)
Kaleb O'Neil (22.13)
Terrell Sanders (22.26)
Denver Davidson (22.28)
Josiah Rainey (22.51)
Bruce Payreli (22.52)
Jones would go on to collect another win in the 60m hurdles, running a US #27 time of 8.01 while finishing second in the 60m dash.
The senior from Fayetteville will lead this loaded class of 200m runners into the outdoor season who appear to be on a collision course with history.
Girls Pole Vault goes down to the Wire
Allie Quast won the 5A state title in the pole vault but was joined by two other vaulters who had great days of their own.
Quast won the event, clearing the bar at 12-0, setting a new Arkansas #1 mark. Finishing just behind her was the pair of Kayla Ryan, the 6A state champion, and Breanne Nicholson, the 5A runner-up, both of whom cleared the bar at 11-6.
Last year was an exciting season in Arkansas for the pole vault but with several of the top athletes in the event graduating last spring, the trio of Quast, Ryan, and Nicholson will lead the new generation of Arkansas vaulters into 2024.
Keep your eye on the Boys Jumps Events
Cooper Williams had an exciting day over the weekend, setting the Arkansas indoor state meet record in the high jump, clearing 7-0. The bar that Williams entered on (and cleared the first jump) would end up being the bar that eliminated the rest of his competition.
Williams also finished second in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump in 6A, but it was Williams' final attempt in the high jump that closed the door on a massive day for the University of Arkansas commit.
Christian Farrow and Amarion Pulliaum also had great days over the weekend, picking up state championships en route to their Milesplit US Gold standard performances. Farrow won the long jump, jumping 22-10, and finished second in the triple jump, while Pulliaum jumped 47-7 en route to winning the triple jump.
Another season, another dominating start for Solara Koser.
After narrowly missing out on gold at this event last February, Koser returned and had a phenomenal day, winning state titles in the 60m hurdles and long jump events. Koser also finished second in the 400m, running a 56.73, a new personal best.