Pearson solid for SSHS girls
■ She’s helped the Lady Panthers win three straight state titles.
Allika Pearson isn’t driven by state championship rings.
In fact, the three rings she’s received for being part of the Siloam Springs girls cross country team’s back-to-back-to-back 6A state titles in 2014, 2015 and 2016 are still in a box on a shelf at home.
So when the Lady Panthers run in this year’s 6A State Meet at 3:45 p.m. on Friday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, winning another ring isn’t what is on her mind.
“It’s not a big drive for me,” said Pearson, a senior. “Just celebrating with a team that’s good at what they do. Sometimes I do it because I have a drive, because a lot of people say cross country isn’t a sport. But we win state, so there’s got to be something there. I just really appreciate how good people are around me. I want them to do well at state so they can be happy.”
Pearson will be the only senior running for the Lady Panthers on Friday at the state meet. She’ll be joined by juniors Chloe McGooden, Brittany Pilcher, sophomores Chloe Maxwell, Claudia Mercado, Kailey Pentz, Rebecca Rodgers and freshmen Sydney Moorman and Ashlyn Walker.
“Allika’s a great leader as far as she’s going to do exactly what you want her to do in practice,” said Siloam Springs head coach Sharon Jones. “She’s always going to set our pace.”
Pearson just recorded a new personal record in last week’s 6A-West Conference Meet with a time of 20 minutes, 43.44 seconds.
“She’s running well,” Jones said. “She PRed last week. I expect her to PR again this week. I think she’ll be the top of the pack. She’ll do what she sets out to do. She is such a good pace runner too. She is able to focus. No matter what everybody else is doing in the race, she’s able to focus on what she knows she needs to do.”
Pearson comes from a running family. Her dad, Matt, is a runner and was the cross country coach at John Brown. Her brother, Elliott, is a current JBU cross country runner and former Siloam Springs standout.
Jones said Pearson is likely heading to John Brown as well.
“Arkansas State really pursued her early,” Jones said. “Smaller schools have singled her out, but she wants to go to JBU.
NOTES: The following boys will participate for Siloam Springs in the 6A State Boys Meet at 3:15 p.m.: Seniors Isaac Leachman and Caleb Ellis, junior Samuel Granderson, sophomores Kerrig Kelly, Adam Kennedy, Isaac Price and Ransom Van Asche and freshmen Michael Capehart and Blake Morrision.
Siloam Springs senior Allika Pearson hopes to lead the Lady Panthers to their fourth straight Class 6A cross country championship on Friday at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.