Sr Tigers Clear As First Time Vaulters

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Over the history of Mansfield track teams, the Tigers have typically been extremely efficient in the pole vault. Until last season, the crew had sent numerous athletes to post season play and had even won the event twice at the state meet. Graduation and general attrition had depleted the jumps team the past two seasons. So, Mansfield found help in two first time vaulters for the 2019 season.

“The two we found are seniors,” said Mansfield coach John Mackey. “That’s not ideal, but they are willing to learn even at this late stage in their careers.” Although not scoring among the top vaulters at the Greenwood meet on March 14, the pair of Lady Tigers did clear a bar at their first competitive experience at the vertical venue.

Seniors Alyssa Berry and Sara Willadsen nervously approached the large scale meet hosted by class 5A track school Greenwood. With only a few lessons under their belts, the pair each cleared the opening height of 6 feet having never made an approach from their full run. “It was a little scary and nerve-wracking for them I’m sure,” continued the coach. “They calmed the nerves and succeeded even if it was in a small way.”

Berry, a primary middle distance runner throughout her Mansfield career, had never competed in a field event before this meet. Willadsen, a track transfer from Hartford, had dabbled with some field events but was a primary runner when she enrolled in Mansfield this past summer. Willadsen also cleared her first high jump bar in track competition. It’s another new field event the senior player has learned since joining the team.

In total, Mansfield took a small group of women and men to Greenwood on the day school let out for spring break. The Lady Tiger squad was hit hard by graduation last season and only had three available sophomores to move into place for this year’s team. Consequently, they only took 11 active athletes to Greenwood for the women’s events.

The Tiger men revived their numbers last season for a competitive 2018 season. This season, a rash of non-track related injuries and sickness have sidelined the Tigers’ top four returners. The void has left the men unable to field all 17 events.

Despite the heavy handed handcuffs, sophomores Brooke Wright and Makayla Strutton had effective outings at the Bulldog Invitational through preliminary observations. Official meet results were unavailable as of press time because of computer glitches and timer malfunctions at Smith-Robinson Stadium delayed outcomes in all events.

What was determined was Wright had the right stuff at the throwing venues. The tenth grader who placed fifth at the class 3A state meet a year ago, went 91’ 9” for fifth place at the Bulldog Invitational. Wright also tossed the shot put 27’ 5” for another scoring opportunity. That mark claimed seventh place for the young Tiger thrower.

Strutton seemed fast through her heat of the 100m hurdles. Unofficially, the sophomore was clocked at 17.87. Her position looked to be in the running for a top eight time but official outcomes were not submitted. The tenth grader won her heat in the 300m hurdles. The unofficial time of 57.47 was two seconds faster than her sixth place ribbon earned at Van Buren nearly two weeks ago.

Teammates Lennon Woods and Delilah McKusker also ran solid 300m times for the first time in that event this season. Woods was coach timed at 58.39 while McKusker had a mark of 59.31. The pair also competed in the100m high hurdles with McKusker going approximately 19.70 and Woods crossing near the 20.50 mark.

Senior Haylee Buckner tied for 8th place in the women’s high jump at 4’ 6”. Strutton and Willadsen both cleared the opening height but failed to advance. Strutton showed promise in her first competitive high jump since the seventh grade. The multi-talented athlete was reaching heights well above the bar but inexperience placed her take off foot too far from the landing pad. As a result, she was landing short and on top of the cross bar.

Bri Sanderson was solid for the Tiger men at the discus ring. The sophomore flew the discus 112’ from the front of the ring. Teammate Jacob Brown followed at 85’ for Mansfield’s throws team. The two also gained in confidence at the smaller shot put sector with attempts of 37’ and 35’. Sanderson claimed the higher place among the Tiger shot putters.

Randall Claude continued to show signs of emerging speed with his two sprint results. The tenth grader unofficially went 12.56 in the 100m dash and 26.40 in the 200m race. Renden Emery won his heat of the men’s 300m hurdles and was in the hunt over the 110m high hurdles in his respective section. The tenth grader also cleared 5’ 6” in the high jump and sailed 36’ 2” in the triple jump.

Janna Coplin was happy with a personal record in the discus. The Lady Tiger junior found her mark of 75’ 9” particularly appealing especially with the windy conditions. Artem Zirka was similarly pleased in the men’s 1600m run. An unofficial time of 5:39.98 was the exchange student’s best time of the early season.

Victor Steffen ran the 300m hurdles, long jumped, and high jumped for the MHS men. Addison Goetz, Hailey Byers, and Willadsen covered the sprints for the Tiger women. Haylie Burns and Miracle Pettigrew contributed to the female throws. Next up are the Mansfield Tiger Relays on March 26.

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