Comparatively speaking, the results of
the 2019 Mansfield track season fell below it’s usual high standards. For
exactly two decades, the Tigers have enjoyed large helpings of district and
state success. This year, a modest dip in performance along with an influx of
larger sized schools into the conference put Mansfield in unfamiliar territory.
Despite the challenges, Mansfield
managed to advance four athletes into the April 30th state championships in
Green Forest. The small band of Tiger track and field stars found their way to
that next round through all-district marks achieved at the 3A Region 1 West
conference meet held at Mansfield on April 22.
Going on to compete at the class 3A
state finals from Mansfield will be Sadie Roberts, Bri Sanderson, Makayla
Strutton, and Sara Willadsen.
Roberts, just a freshman, claimed her
ticket by clearing 4’ 11” in the high jump for second place in the conference
championship. The young vertical leaper actually tied Jaden Kirkendoll, the
district winner out of Waldron, with the same height. However, a series of
early misses by Roberts pushed her into the lower overall placement.
Bri Sanderson, a sophomore thrower off
the men’s team, made it to the state stage because of his 109’ 7” discus toss.
The mark placed Sanderson into second place in the conference standings and
advanced him to the Green Forest meet.
Strutton, a sophomore off the Lady Tiger
roster, found her way to the state finals by the narrowest of margins.
With identical 100m hurdle times
recorded at 18.30 seconds, Strutton and Joyce Ferguson of Waldron basically
tied for second place. Another move of the computer mouse running the video
review displayed the pair were separated by a thousandth of a second.
Strutton’s slight edge sent her to the
state meet. Ferguson’s one thousandths of a second too much time left her home
with a third place decision.
Willadsen, the only senior off the Tiger
stat sheet to advance, did so with a personal best 13.81 second run in the 100m
“Sara has been our hardest working
player all season,” said long time Mansfield coach John Mackey. “How
appropriate that she had to do it the hard way by winning the next to the last
heat. All the faster runners were in the third heat. Sara had to post a fast
time then play the waiting game.”
The fully automated timer perched above
the finish line at Tiger Stadium sandwiched Willadsen’s time between 13.79 ran
by winner Chloe Morrow of Cedarville and 13.87 ran by third place recipient
Katie McBroom also of Cedarville.
Overall, Mansfield’s girls finished
fourth in the team standings. Waldron won. West Fork was runner-up, and
Cedarville came in third.
To Mansfield’s detriment, a
reclassification by the Arkansas Activities Association sent the conference’s
top two finishers into the Tiger’s league this 2019 season. Both those
institutions competed in class 4A last season. Moreover, two more towns that
competed as class 4A schools a year ago entered the district to make exactly
half the conference former big school foes.
The Tiger men fell all the way to
seventh in the conference standings. Waldron, Elkins, and West Fork, all former
big schools, took the top three places.
Mansfield’s men endured a rough end to a
promising start of the season. Injury to key starters and normal attrition
depleted the Tiger roster. The group put up a strong fight despite only having
a dozen disciples left to man the shores.
Renden Emery scored the most for the men
through two jumps and both hurdle races. Jacob Brown threw his way to a third
place discus mark. Ethan Chapman, Mikeal Harrison, Victor Steffen, and Artem
Zirka placed through the distance events.
Randall Claude, Dru Buckner, and Logan
Yoss covered the relays. Zayne Dugan and Shawn Brown added to the throws
The Lady Tigers had Willadsen and
Strutton serve as their top two scorers. Large production also came from the
team’s top thrower Brooke Wright.
Delilah McKusker, Shelby Cole, and
Lennon Woods helped in the relays and hurdles.
Faith Rainwater, Hope Rainwater, and
McKenzie Griffin scored in the distance events. Alyssa Berry, Cole, Roberts,
and Willadsen all pointed in the pole vault.
Athletes that finished as a top two
advancer in any event at the conference track meet earned All-District honors.
Roberts, Sanderson, Strutton, and Willadsen fit that bill.
Third place medalists moved into
honorable mention status. Wright and Jacob Brown donned those capes.