MHS Track seniors take a final picture (above) at the indoor state finals. Pictured (Left to Right) are Eden Jones, Whittney Clark, Coach John Mackey, Makiah Holmes, and Fayth Schwartz. (Not pictured are seniors Audrey Walker and Makayla Bolton.)
Mansfield’s much heralded women’s track and field team came closer to the pack than it had in over a decade. Slowed by untimely ills and youthful inexperience, the MHS Indoor Track team fell on uneven times at the 2017 ATCA Championships back on February 3.
Uncharacteristically, the Mansfield Lady Tigers did not finish in the top ten for the first time since it began going to the indoor track finals back in 2003. This year the unit fell all the way back to number 24.
Competing in the combined classification of 1A through 4A, it was the bigger schools that dominated the field. Five of the top six teams were from the 4A ranks including winner Joe T. Robinson and runner-up Crossett.
Those two track powers defeated the only class 3A schools in the top ten. The class 3A schools making the top ten included third place Genoa Central, the defending state champions, and ninth place Greenland.
Conway Christian was tenth place overall. It was the only class 2A school to crack the lofty position.
“Our most valuable player off of last year’s team got extremely sick the week of state,” said veteran coach John Mackey. “Audrey Walker was our 2016 Player of the Year and targeted for a full schedule of events. She just couldn’t get well and had to miss her last indoor meet. I feel bad for her and her teammates. Audrey simply breaths track and field.”
What Mansfield did carry to the meet in the way of players was a roster full of sophomores and freshmen. Twelve of the 18 Lady Tigers in competition were in those lower two grades. Only five seniors made the trip and one of those was a first timer.
Mansfield did have its moments as junior Megan Rose shined the brightest with 3 personal records over her three event slate.
“Megan (Rose) is our strongest distance runner and the 2016 Cross Country Player of the Year,” expressed Mackey. “She came into this meet near the top of her game. She ran personal records along the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m distances. She’s a real talent. We’re excited for her outdoor season.”
Rose was one of nine Lady Tigers to bring home a medal. The others included seniors Whittney Clark, Eden Jones, and Fayth Schwartz, sophomores Alyssa Berry, Brooklyn Carlton, and Riley Shoell, and freshmen Delilah McKusker and Lennon Woods.
Rose went 2:46 as the opening leg of the 4x800m relay. Later, she knocked of a 6:17 pace in the 1600m run then rolled off a 13:23 clocking in the 3200m run. Her indoor medal was as a member of the distance relay team.
The junior All-Star athlete was joined by Berry, McKusker, and Woods on the 4x800m team. Collectively the squad was timed for an eighth place 12:14.13 showing.
Seniors Eden Jones and Walker were medalist off that unit in past seasons. So was junior Corrina Wesley.
Jones was participating in her first competition since last spring after a leg injury derailed her of a fall workout schedule. She was held out of the relay because of its direct conflict with the high jump.
Wesley was held out because of a priority move to compete at the triple and long jump pits.
“Our younger girls held their own,” commented Mackey. “I’m proud the freshmen were able to complete that team and get a medal at their first indoor finals.”
Jones and Clark joined Carlton and Shoell as part of the medal winning 4x400m relay. The two seniors bookended the sophomore duo as the four piece orchestra rang home in a fifth place 4:55.41.
“This was Brooklyn’s second time to medal at an indoor finals,” noted the coach. “She was one of two sophomores to do so this season.”
Another sophomore that was close at a medal award was Rylea Weaver. The tenth grade shot put specialist threw a distance just outside the top eight. Her 29’ 9” toss was marked into ninth position.
Senior Fayth Schwartz set a personal record in her pole vault event for a seventh place medal. The vertical specialist went 8’ 0” for the award.
Fellow senior Makiah Holmes was left off the medal stand in a close race in the hurdles. Holmes went 10.97 over the five barrier 60 meter event. Last season that would have easily landed among the top eight. This year the mark was 0.15 away from the final medal.
Others competing for Mansfield included: Makayla Bolton in the sprints, Haylee Buckner in the high jump, Macy Davis in the hurdles, Emily Parish in the pole vault, Allie Willsey in the triple jump, and Jessie George in the 1600m run.