Pictured above, Mansfield track medalists Danielle Lillie and Megan Rose pose after the 1A-4A state indoor finals.
The Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, of the Mansfield Lady Tiger track fortunes were on display at this year’s 2018 ATCA Indoor Track and Field State Championships on February 23 in Fayetteville.
The Alpha, Mansfield freshman Danielle Lillie, began her senior high track career with an award winning moment inside the Randal Tyson Track Complex at the University of Arkansas. The wildly athletic ninth grader was the first individual member of the Mansfield women’s team to compete on the day.
Arguably the fastest Lady Tiger on the MHS campus, Lillie delivered.
The Omega, Mansfield senior Megan Rose, finished the indoor portion of her illustrious track career with an award winning moment at those same indoor finals. The quietly athletic twelfth grader was the last individual member of the Lady Tigers to close the night.
Elected the most athletic member of her class, Rose delivered.
Lillie and Rose were among the brightest spots amidst a day of learning experiences for a Lady Tiger track team that’s used to winning on a high level. Holding together a very inexperienced roster, the dynamic duo reshaped the group and raised hope for an upcoming outdoor season.
For the first time since 2007, Mansfield’s women went into a track meet without a decorated state champion on the roster. With last season’s graduating class, the remaining pieces of Mansfield’s 2014 Indoor and Outdoor State Championship teams were gone.
“We were certainly inexperienced,” stated veteran track Coach John Mackey as he reflected on the indoor finals. “Some really versatile athletes just graduated. What should have been some similarly gifted returnees are no longer with the team. That put us into restructure mode with little time for mastery. It will take some time for new faces to learn to new things.”
Lillie walked into the U. of A. track complex Friday night only to immediately see her name shining in the scoreboard lights. On display was the first heat of the women’s 60 m hurdles in which her name was listed under lane seven.
The already somewhat nervous freshman would be running in the very first event of the night with the fastest flight of girls. The young hurdler responded with a terrific 10.83 clocking to but her into medal position. After the other five heats concluded, Lillie came away with the seventh fastest time of the opening event.
“Danielle juggled basketball practice and other interests to make time for hurdle practice,” announced Mackey. “She earned the medal. She did what we thought she was capable of doing. I’m happy for her. It’s a big deal for a freshman to score.”
Rose walked into the building knowing it was her last time to shine on this stage. Once a bit nervous herself as an award winning freshman and again on every year since, the grizzled veteran had to feel some emotions moving as well.
Showing little signs of butterflies, Rose responded like a veteran should. Her 800m time on the 4x800m relay was among her best. A few hours later, a personal record in the 1600m run was reached.
Near the end of the nearly 8 hour track meet, Rose toed the line in the final individual race of the night for women. It was the 3200m race. It was a 16 lap monotonous series of circles and the last chance for Rose to garner individual honors.
After a workmanlike effort, Rose held off the final contenders and placed eighth with a time of 13:41.21.
“Megan is a keeper,” commented Mackey. “She’s had pressure since cross country season. College coaches hound her for a commitment. It’s added weight to an already stressful schedule. She’s been tough though it all. I’m so proud she went out with a medal.”
Between the beginning and the end, Mansfield’s inexperience showed. There was solid performances. It just wasn’t medal stand worthy in most cases.
All-District returnees Corrina Wesley, Alyssa Berry, Delilah McKusker, and Lennon Woods did their part. Moving forward it, they will form the core with their scoring counterparts.
Wesley handle the horizontal jumps and 4x400m relay. She is the only other senior on the roster and has four indoor and two outdoor state finals under her belt.
Berry took a schedule that included the 4x800m relay, 1600m and 3200m runs. She is one of four juniors on the team.
McKusker contributed in two relay events despite missing the first semester of training. Classmate Woods managed a sore hip to contribute in the 4x800m relay and 400m dash. Both are sophomores from a class of seven.
Janna Coplin threw the shot since her primary event, the discus, isn’t an indoor event. Freshmen teammates Haylie Burns and Brooke Wright joined at the shot put ring.
Addison Goetz long jumped and handle sprint duties while Jesse George, Madison Nelson, and Kara Sweeten tackled the middle distances races.
Haylee Buckner cleared two bars at the high jump venue. Hailey Byers ran the 60m dash and Miracle Pettigrew covered the 400m race.