Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette NIE

Teams enjoy running ‘Swedish relays’


ROGERS — The format used during the Whitey Smith Relay Carnival allows area track and field teams to run both common and unique relay events.

The newest event that took place — the 1,000-meter sprint “Swedish relay” — was run for the first time and kicked off the running portion of the meet Thursday at Rogers Heritage’s Gates Stadium. The race consisted of four athletes who ran 100, 200, 300 and 400 meters in succession.

“It was probably the funnest relay I’ve ever done in my life,” said Jordan Durham of Bentonville West, whose girls team won the event. “It just felt fun. It wasn’t too overwhelming.

“I would do it again — 100%. I wish it was a normal event in track meets.”

Durham, who normally does jumps and hurdles, said she was “drafted” to run the 300 portion of the Swedish relay, mainly because of her time in the 300 hurdles. The Lady Wolverines already had the lead by the time Durham took the baton from teammate Yvonnie Mbekenya, and Durham gave Malaya Johnson a healthy cushion to run the 400 portion.

West went on to win the event with a time of 2 minutes, 22.41 seconds, more than 6 seconds ahead of second-place Bentonville.

“I think I was chosen for the 300 because of my 300 hurdles time,” Durham said. “The race was more mental than the hurdles because you have checkpoints before every hurdle. With the 300, it’s just a straight run, so you’re just thinking the entire time.

“I felt good while running the 300. I was a little nervous at first. At practice, I’m usually ‘Oh my gosh,’ but it felt good. I just grabbed the baton, and Yvonne said, ‘Go Jordan.’ ”

River Zanes, however, didn’t share Durham’s sentiment about the race. He needed additional time to recuperate after he ran the 400 portion of the boys race and helped Heritage win.

The War Eagles had the lead when Bruce Payerli handed the baton to Zanes, but he had to hold off a strong charge by West’s Zion Brown in the 400 to give his team the win. Heritage finished with a time of 2:01.18, while West was right behind at 2:20.00.

“I just think I ran my best,” Zanes said when asked about his exhaustion. “I just ran my heart out. I was going and I started hearing footsteps behind me during the first 200 meters. That’s when I knew I needed to go faster, and I started heating up.”

Bentonville swept the team titles, and this time the boys had to hold off a pair of teams. The Tigers finished with 120 points, while Fayetteville and Rogers tied for second place with 102 apiece.

The Tigers used their distance runners to break two meet records. The team of Eli Seavey, Carter Beasley, Owen Kelley and Matthew Shelly broke the 6,400 relay with its time of 18:03.47, surpassing the previous mark of 18:14.49 set by Springdale HarBer in 2021. Seavey, Beasley and Shelly then teamed with Ryan Fernstrom to break the distance medley relay with their time of 10:32.92, besting the previous mark of 10:42.81 set by the Tigers in 2021.

“We always like to start this post-spring break period with some good results,” Bentonville Coach Mike Power said. “I think we got those. I think the distance crew did well and got a few records, which is fun to do in races we rarely run. I thought we also had some good results around the pole vault and Christian Farrow in the jumps.

“We have some areas where we need to improve. Looking on the positive side, we qualified a few extra people for state and came away from this meet with some meet records, some school records. So it’s been a positive day.”

Fayetteville also had a meet record in the 3,200 relay, where the team of David Marsh, Wesley Marsh, Alan Gallardo-Lopez and Nate Rogerson finished in 8:06.04, eclipsing the previous mark of 8:11.09 set by Har-Ber last season.

Bentonville’s girls also broke two meet records and finished the meet with 133 points, while Fayetteville edged Rogers for runner-up honors by an 82-78 margin. The Lady Tigers’ team of Haley Loewe, Macey Hur- ley, Everly O’Daniel and Devyn O’Daniel had a time of 21:36.37 in the 6,400 relay, breaking the previous mark of 22:07.75 set by Rogers in 2018.

The team of Paisley Hight, Laney Dollar, Eden Nguyen and Sydney Ferguson won the 400 shuttle hurdle relay in 1:06.76, breaking the previous mark of 1:07.36 by Rogers in 2019. Rogers had a meet record in the distance medley relay, where the team of Kayla Eggers, Anna Scudder, Katherine Scudder and Lilly Beshears had a time of 12:26.82, breaking the previous mark of 12:38.49 by Bentonville in 2018.

On an individual note, Bentonville’s Jane Musengwa had a best effort in the shot put of 43 feet, 8 inches and broke the meet record of 41-5 set by Jasmin Franklin of Fayetteville in 2018. Musengwa also match the distance Texarkana’s Roshendeda Ross’ Class 6A state record in 1991.

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