Power in the pack as BNL girls race to team title in Scott Hiles Invitational

BNL’s Elise Williams, Jabrie Sullivan and Francesca Orozco work through the course as co-coach Danielle Garrison points the way during the Scott Hiles Invitational on Tuesday. The Stars won the team title.

By Justin Sokeland


BEDFORD – Wolves, orcas and lions all hunt in packs. That mentality makes them fierce and feared. It’s also the attack approach Bedford North Lawrence is using to its advantage during its five-kilometer hunt for success. There’s power in the pack.

While Eastern Greene’s best ran off to claim the top individual honor, BNL stuck with the game plan. Race together, win together. The Stars dominated the top 10 in the girls race while prowling to the team title in the Scott Hiles Invitational on Tuesday afternoon.

Content to compete at their own pace, the Stars scored 30 points to claim the crown on their home track. Eastern Greene was second with 52. In the boys race, No.13 Bloomington North was unchallenged while posting a perfect team score of 15, but BNL was second with 58 in the eight-team field.

While Eastern’s Esther Crane blasted to the individual victory in 20:40.60, the Stars filled most of the top 10. Elise Williams, a talented freshman, crossed first for BNL in 23:02.94, but her teammates were not far behind.

BNL’s Elise Williams splashes through a water hazard en route to finishing third overall.

“Eastern Greene had some fast girls, but it’s the numbers,” BNL co-coach Amy Spence said. “It’s amazing, where they are so close and packed together. That’s what it takes.”

Williams was third overall, followed by Jabrie Sullivan (fourth in 23:10.02), Madison Chandler (fifth in 23:36.55), exchange student Evija Buike (eighth in 24:42.45) and Francesca Orozco (10th in 25:04.38) in the event that was delayed for eight days because of last week’s brutal heat and heat-index warnings.

“That’s what we’ve been talking about,” BNL co-coach Danielle Garrison said.

Williams and Sullivan were never more than a stride or two apart. Crane and teammate Lilyanna Blais (second in 21:26.53) set a fast pace, especially in the heat of the day, but the Stars refused to chase.

“Jabrie really helped me,” Williams said. “We were pushing each other throughout the whole thing. I was trying to push myself up the hills. You can get winded out there. So I was trying to keep my pace, not go out too fast or slow down too much.“

BNL’s Jonah Bailey gets his feet wet while racing to eighth place in the boys race.

“Jabrie does not want to be second,” Spence said. “She wants to be first and she fights for it. They’re so team oriented but looking for that individual improvement.”

In the boys race, North’s pack was invincible. The Cougars claimed the top six spots, and any of the first four could have won the individual title. Evidently it was Aden Pierce’s turn as he crossed in 17:23.51, although there was only 0.33 seconds dividing the top four.

After that, BNL posted some impressive finishes. Jonah Bailey was eighth in 17:59.46. He took it easy during the first third of the race, then started picking off the weak and slow.

“We’ve been training the last couple of weeks to not take off as hard,” Bailey said. “Most of us can’t keep up with the North runners. They’re so talented and good, and they deserve it. So taking it slow and working our way up was our strategy.”

That worked as Alex Nicholson was 13th (18:37.64), Nicholas Lindley was 15th (18:51.23) and Jaymee Reed was 20th (20:01.52).

BNL’s Alex Nicholson heads up the hill toward the finish line.

“You’ve got to be happy with a second-place finish,” BNL coach Nick Boyd said. “As a collective group., we ran smart. That’s one of the things it takes to race this course. They set their own tone. We’re making progress.”

BNL’s girls team will compete in the North Harrison Invitational on Thursday.


Boys results

Girls results