Pictured above, Devon Pyles, Garrett Wilson, Joris Felius, and Randall Claude pose with their a 4x800m relay medal.
Over the last decade, Mansfield High School has entered exactly one male athlete to compete at the ATCA Indoor State Track and Field Championships. That lone runner was 2015 MHS graduate Alex Van Herpen who currently contends as a marquee runner for Williams Baptist College out of Walnut Ridge.
This past Friday, the Tigers took what seemed like a legion of male athletes to the 1A-4A state title meet held on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. Thanks to a growing confidence among the Tiger players that have been practicing since early January, an inexperienced Mansfield crew came home with a noticeable nine medals.
“It was a huge step in the right direction,” announced long time Mansfield women’s track coach John Mackey who recently added the men’s program to his duties this season. “No, our results weren’t in the conversation as compared today’s state champions. But, the progress our players have made does make for an interesting chat about the possibilities of outdoor conference.”
“Like all good things, it will take time and effort,” continued the coach. “The ones that we have practicing now are soaking up coaching like a sponge. The real key will be if those athletes walking the halls see this early success and take a chance to join the fun.”
Senior Briar Hattabaugh had a good day for the Tigers as one of six Mansfield men to bring home hardware. The first time indoor track athlete was a double award winner by placing in the triple jump and 4x400m relay.
Hattabaugh’s 39’ 0.5” triple jump was the second longest measure of his abbreviated career. The mark was eighth place among such a long list of jumpers that it took until nearly 11:00 PM to complete the rotation.
Hattabaugh’s long jump of 19’ 0.5” for tenth place was also a milestone for the lanky athlete. According to Mackey, that’s the longest horizontal hop he could remember by a Mansfield boy since Bob Hattabaugh coached a player in the early 1990’s that went over 20 feet.
Senior Garrett Wilson joined Hattabaugh, Will Meadows, and Joris Felius to win their heat of the concluding 4x400m relay. Collectively, Mansfield’s per leg average was 58.32 seconds. That total time of 3:53.26 was the seventh fastest mark among a three heat lineup.
Wilson and Felius earlier joined freshman Randall Claude and Devon Pyles on the 4x800m relay. After a controversial finish, the Tiger grouping was eventually declared seventh place winners.
Pyles, despite being a three time River Valley All-Star in cross country, was competing in his first indoor state finals as a senior. Wilson, a baseball wizard who hadn’t picked up a baton or ran in a track meet since his middle school days, was the third scoring senior on the Tiger’s 2018 track roster.
“The three seniors made the most of their first and last trip to the Tyson Track Complex,” issued Mackey. “I’m happy they got to experience the atmosphere of such a big event before they graduate.”
Sophomore Blayne Bryant made a memorable moment by wining his heat among 12 such races for the men’s 400m dash. Turning the final two curves of the condensed 200m indoor track, Bryant rallied behind a strong kick and cheering teammates to take the tape. His time was 1:02.23.
Bryant also competed in the shot put as part of a three man core from Assistant Coach Dustin Payne’s throwing team. Sophomore Jacob Brown and freshman newcomer Blake Wilkins joined the trio.
Freshman Renden Emery moved up to the senior high 39” hurdles and held his own in the 60m high hurdles race. His 10.89 clocking was ninth best among just the freshmen hurdlers.
Emery also ran a solid 2:37.07 time in the 800m run, and joined in his first high jump competition.
Meadows, just a sophomore, looked the part of a versatile track athlete with the longest event schedule of any of the Tigers.
The compact speedster did both horizontal jumps with marks near 18’ in the long jump and over 38’ in the triple. He ran 8.10 in the 60m dash and 26.23 in the 200m dash.