BENTONVILLE (KFSM)--When the Bentonville school district split after the 2015-16 school year, many saw Bentonville West as a team that would struggle for years. The exact opposite has happened, as the Wolverines have thrived in many sports including reaching the 7A softball state championship game.
What's rarely considered is that the athletes at West all came from Bentonville, which makes Friday's title game that much bigger.
"Definitely a major rivalry considering it is West & BHS," Wolverine senior Brittany Crowson said.
"Pretty unbelievable that in the class 7A the state championship is coming down to the city of Bentonville," Lady Tigers coach Kent Early said.
"I played with a lot of those girls growing up," Bentonville senior Keelah Griffith said.
"But at the same time I just think it speaks volumes of the talent that we have here at Bentonville and Bentonville West," added Anna Griffin, a senior at Bentonville West.
"It's pretty cool for the city," said junior Morgan Nelson. "Bentonville has a lot of athletes. We have a lot of athletes and so does West>
West senior Jazmine Dodd sums it up best. "It's just crazy cause we used to all go to the same school. There was so much talent there."
And when the district split, it allowed some girls who hadn't played much at Bentonville to shine at West.
"Especially us juniors and us seniors who were at BHS to begin with and now we're here setting our own example. It's our own school and we set the precedent for it," Crowson said.
"For us to be in a game with them, that's a tribute to our kids because last year there was a mystique about it," Wolverine coach Anthony Cantrell said. "And we were pumped up just to be playing them."
But now the playing field is even. And while West aims for its first state championship, Bentonville looks to maintain its place atop the softball world.
"It's like the world series to us. The state championship is an amazing feeling and every year that's our goal. To go there and to win it," said Griffith.
"There's been a lot of teams to win back to back state championships but making an appearance for three straight puts you on another level, added Early.
Beacuse both Bogle Park and Farris Field at the University of Arkansas and UCA have hosting conflicts, the fourth edition of the Battle Down 102 this spring will be played at Benton High School at 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening.