Medal Sweep! Mansfield senior girls all medal as the cross country team earns the runner-up team trophy at the SW Region Finals. (Referencing the above picture)
For the two younger teams linked to the Mansfield cross country program, the Southwest Regionals at Acorn was the end of their 2016 season. For the two older squads, the multiple classification sectional was the final tuneup before the state championships at the end of the week.
Mansfield took its four divisional teams to the regional finals pitting teams form across classification lines for the November 2 event. Teams from class 1A through 4A were invited to attend the bordered area stretching from as far north as Mansfield to as far south as Jessieville.
The Mansfield senior girls collected the runner-up team trophy while the junior girls only managed fourth after moving up its freshmen runners. Neither of the Mansfield boy teams carried a full roster and were only eligible for individual awards.
Four days earlier the Mansfield junior girls were 3A-4 conference champions by a large margin. At the Acorn hosted regionals, the MJH unit was running without the services of the individual district medalist Lennon Woods and fellow freshman Jessica George.
The ninth grade pair helped the Lady Tigers win the district but were summoned up to the senior high team in preparation for the state meet. Therefore the junior Lady Tigers were populated exclusively with seventh and eighth graders.
“The ninth graders knew the conference was their last junior high meet,” explained their head coach John Mackey. “ Yes, it hurt the younger team’s standings but it helped the senior results tremendously. They (Woods and George) needed to experience this level of competition before the big show.”
Mansfield’s new look senior high women took home the second place team trophy at the regionals. The crew achieved conference championship status back on October 29 when they moved up freshman Delilah McKusker early for a qualifying team of five.
At Acorn, it was Mansfield junior class member Megan Rose that shined with a stellar time of 21:45 for the overall second place finish. Rose climbed within 50 seconds of the first place position behind an incredible kick to end her 5K race.
Newly elevated teammate Woods was fifth overall with a clocking of 23:52. Corrina Wesley, McKusker, and Jessica George completed the Lady Tiger scoring five. Bree George provided displacer points.
For the junior girls, Mansfield eighth grader Danielle Lillie closed strong to garner a top ten medal. The runner-up district finisher went 11:22 for the 1.5 course.
Seventh grade teammates McKenzie Griffin (11:24 for 11th) and Harleigh Mars (11:46 for 19th) also medaled as awards went to the top 25 regional runners. The group’s scoring five was completed Haylee Helms and Morgan Burns.
On the men’s side it was Mansfield stalwart Devon Pyles that turned in his best performance to date. The junior class member reached the elusive 19 minute barrier for the first time in a legitimate 5K race.
Pyles was timed at 19:41. The milestone was important to the Tiger’s lone senior high runner as the 19 minute mark is the qualifying standard for the River Valley All-Star team later this month.
“We’ll see if it’s enough for Devon to make the All-Stars for the second year in a row,” said Mackey. “It depends upon the top 20 men in the area. We hope Devon can improve on this number a little more to ensure his status.”
Pyles was eleventh overall and secured yet another medal to add to his growing collection.
Mansfield’s junior boys only sent three to the regionals after the unit carried a team of five for a district runner-up plaque a week earlier.
The three seventh graders representing the junior boys were Levi Escalante, Dru Buckner, and Riley Sadoski. All three squeaked into the top 25 for medals.
Escalante was 19th (10:30), Buckner was 22nd (10:38), and Sadoski was 24th (10:50).
“It was a good finish for the boys,” commented Mackey. “Everyone off the boys side secured a medal this season. It made the hard work worth the effort.”