Walking the walk, Mansfield’s five seniors and their coach give the track a final victory lap after winning the 3A Region 1 West conference track and field championship. (Reference the above image)
The count moves to eleven. With down home determination and senior savvy, Mansfield’s high school girls did it again. The Lady Tigers hosted and roasted the members of the 3A Region 1 West Conference for their eleventh consecutive district track and field title.
The wet, frigid, unfriendly conditions of Wednesday, April 26 was not ideal for a district track meet. The conditions did not matter to the MHS class of 2017 and it’s band of underrated underclassmen. They were not about to let strong winds, cold rain, nor hungry Pirates raid the treasure they have held dear for over a decade.
Whittney Clark, Makiah Holmes, Eden Jones, Fayth Schwartz, and Audrey Walker shouldered the load. Five members, all senior captains, made it their mission to hold up the tradition of being a champion. The help from Tiger shipmates was pretty darn good as well.
Walker in particular was driven to produce at a high level. The talented senior rallied for 43 total points behind 2 firsts place, 2 second place, 1 fourth place, and a relay runner-up. For her efforts, the conference recognized her as the high point individual winner.
Mansfield’s Clark was not far behind in the point production line. She tossed in 30.8 points behind a pair of individual firsts, a tie for second, and two high scoring relays. Amazingly, the effort came after limited time on the track due to softball commitments for the school.
Jones came through in her usual high quality way. The wily veteran won the high jump, scored silver in the 400m, and contributed on all three relays. To date she has qualified in six state events.
Toss in a winning 4x100m relay and heartbreaking hurdle points from Holmes. Accentuate it with pole vault gold from Schwartz. The stat line reveals 46% of the team’s numbers came from senior sweat.
Greenland, a favorite when the two teams move into post-season, was a distant second in the team standings. Behind Mansfield’s 259.5 points, those very talent Pirates only reached 176.5 points for the conference runner-up trophy. Haas Hall (79), Elkins (49), and Cedarville (36) rounded out the top five.
“Per tradition, we held a very emotional breakfast to start the day,” announced John Mackey, the team’s long time coach. “Each senior wrote a very poignant letter describing their experiences as a Lady Tiger track athlete. To the player, each of them expressed their desire to give the gift of victory one more time before leaving.”
In all, Mansfield qualified 14 female athletes to the state finals. Those finals had been scheduled by the Arkansas Activities Association for Tuesday, May 2 for quite some time.
To qualify to the state round, an athlete must have finished first or second in their event at the district championships. Others could have qualified if they met set standards throughout the year.
Among the Lady Tigers moving on include the five seniors, juniors Megan Rose, Corrina Wesley, sophomores Alyssa Berry, Brooklyn Carlton, Emily Parish, Rylea Weaver, and freshmen Delilah McKusker, Daniella Santander, and Lennon Woods.
Rose, Berry, and Woods join Jones on the silver medal 4x800m team. Rose also pre-qualified with a personal record in the 3200m run earlier in the year.
Wesley will represent as the runner-up in the women’s triple jump. The 2016 conference champion in that event was edged out by teammate Clark for the 2017 crown on Clark’s final attempt.
Carlton will go as a member of the gold medal 4x100m relay. She will be an alternate in both the 100m hurdles and 300m hurdles as the bronze medalist.
Parish will pole vault. She along with Clark and Santander all tied for second place behind’s Schwartz’s victory. The vertical jumps team scored a perfect 29 points towards the team total.
Weaver won the shot put for Mansfield. The softball dual sport athlete was highly ranked at this year indoor state championships.
McKusker was lead leg on the silver medal 4x400m team. She will join Clark, Jones, and Walker in the last event of the state meet.
Riley Shoell was third in the shot and fourth in the discus. Kyla Sysakayavong and Sarah Roberts were fifth and seventh respectively in the shot.
Hailey Buckner scored a third place tie in the high jump. Macy Davis took sixth in the 300m hurdles. Jessica George pointed in the 400m dash.
“This group really came a long ways over the season,” a proud Coach Mackey professed. “We had a small regular season team because of the softball commits. The regulars came through when it counted. The dual sport girls complemented the core in a very productive way. I’m so proud of our entire team.”
CONGRATS Lady Tigers, Coach Mackey, and Mansfield School District! GO TIGERS!