FAYETTEVILLE -- Camren Fischer crossed the finish line all alone at Saturday's 29th annual Chile Pepper Festival.
The Fayetteville junior's nearest competitor in the prep boys El Calientein division finished more than 25 seconds later. His time of 15 minutes, 6 seconds in the 5K race easily bettered his time a year ago of 15:20 when he took third.
At A Glance
29th annual Chile Pepper Festival
El Caliente Division
Smithson Valley, Texas^207
Webb City, Mo.^320
St. Joseph (Mo.) Central^375
Camren Fischer, Fayetteville^15:06.0
Ryan Riddle, Webb City^15:31.2
Max McDaniel, Festus^15:40.1
Parker Ables, Heber Springs^15:42.0
Stephen Kielhofner^Springfield Catholic^15:45.0
Luke Murphy, Lincoln Christian^15:45.0
Blue Valley (M0.) North^230
Blue Springs (Mo.) South^252
Victoria Findley, Blue Springs South^17:40.2
Isabel Van Camp, Keller^17:44.0
Abbey Santoro, Keller^17:54.9
Julia Black, Keller^17:56.9
Mikayla Reed, Washington^18:12.8
Riley Rigdon, Bartlesville^18:14.7
Kelie Henderson, Bolivar^18:24.0
Madelyn Hill, Liberty^18:26.5
Danielle Hotalling^Blue Springs South^18:27.5
Morgan Claire Rose^Kirk Academy^18:28.5
For full results go to www.chilepepperfestival.org
Fischer said the biggest difference for this year was mindset.
"I was a sophomore, Fischer said. "I wasn't really expected to win, so I just went in just to see what I could do. I didn't know what I could do and I surprised myself. I just pushed myself. But today I went for the win.
"The start was about the same, but confidence level was way up. Time-wise , I hit about what I wanted."
Fischer led his Fayetteville team to a third-place finish with 254 points. That total trailed only winner Smithson Valley (207) and Liberty, Mo. (245).
The Purple Bulldogs boys and girls teams were the top Arkansas finishers in the event, which included athletes representing 100 boys teams and 87 girls. The girls team finished eighth and was the lone Arkansas team in the top 10. Bentonville's boys finished seventh, joining Fayetteville in the top 10.
Victoria Findley of Blue Springs (Mo.) South won the girls' race for the second consecutive year in a time of 17:40.2. Keller, Texas also claimed its second straight team title.
Findley, a senior and Missouri commit, ran a slower time than a year ago, but had competitors nipping at her heels the entire race. She edged Isabel Van Camp of Keller, Texas, by less than four seconds.
"My first three meets, we've had some competition, but not stay with me for that long," Findley said. "It was a really good meet. It's a fast course and we wanted good times, but I'm really, really happy to come away with a first-place finish against girls from places like Keller and Southlake Carroll and great teams that we don't normally face."
Keller easily claimed the team title thanks to a 2-3-4 finish to total 50 points. That easily outdistanced Houston (Texas) Stratford, which finished with 165. The same trio of Isabel Van Camp, Abbey Santoro and Julia Black spurred Keller to victory, but they were even better than last year. Santoro was third, Black, fourth, and Van Camp was ninth last year as the team won by just two points.
It's Findley's fourth trip to the Chile Pepper Festival and she's a believer in the event.
"Oh my gosh, just coming out here and see how people support Fayetteville running is just awesome," said Findley, who was second a year ago and third as a sophomore at the Missouri state cross country championships. "We went to Kansas last weekend and it just doesn't even compare. They treat you so well here."
Keller coach Brian Zaring brought his team for just the second year. But he said the trip and competition serve as a great precursor to state and regional events.
"It's most helpful because it lets us get out of town, stay in a hotel," Zaring said. "Get all of our priorities straight before we have to go to Lubbock for regionals and then to Round Rock for state and hopefully to Portland for nationals.
"The level of competition here is really good and makes us work that much harder to compete. It's awesome to see the number of spectators cheering on the kids. And the field being so huge is something they don't get to experience on a week-to-week basis."
Sports on 10/01/2017
Print Headline: Fayetteville's Fischer wins Chile Pepper title