Pictured: Trinity Triska and Laney Wood (from L to R) lead the Mansfield junior girls along with Aidan Fildes, Azlynn Stover, Summer Frazier, Addison Bowman, and Rileigh Parker
Over the years, Mansfield runners have established great credentials. District, regional, and even a state champion have emerged from the Tiger Den. That list looks to grow as a pair of Mansfield middle schoolers have quickly established names for themselves.
Laney Wood and Trinity Triska have pulled away from the pack to become contenders each week for the Mansfield cross country team. As the two toe starting lines race after race, their confidence grows knowing they have a chance to be among the best there.
In eight cross country meets this season, Wood has five Top 5 finishes including two small school wins. She was also the overall winner at the Buck Fever Invitational in Mena on September 29.
Through seven regular-season meets this year, Triska also has five Top 5 finishes. She was an eyelash away from having another Top 5 score in Van Buren on Friday. She was the Southwest Regional Champion in 2019 as a seventh-grader.
On Friday, October 16 both runners were again in contention against small-school rivals at the Van Buren Classic. Triska led the Mansfield roster for nearly the entire 2-mile race until teammate Wood caught her in the final stretch.
Wood crossed the blue matted chip sensor in 14:02.59 for fourth place among class 1A-4A contenders. Triska stepped across in sixth only 1.31 seconds behind her teammate and 0.26 seconds from the fifth place achiever.
Three days earlier at the Rattler Run in Magazine, Wood took sixth place. The race was only 1.5 miles and Wood finished in a time of 10:03. Triska was excused from that race as she stayed in Mansfield helping the undefeated volleyball team secure a semi-final win in the 2A West District Tournament.
In Magazine, the Lady Tiger supporting cast consisted of Addison Bowman, Aidan Fildes, Azlynn Stover, and Summer Frazier. The four did their best by reducing their collective times by an average of 2 minutes and 14.5 seconds. That was in comparison to their first race of the year also staged at Magazine.
Newcomer Rileigh Parker contributed as the fifth Mansfield scoring member at the Rattler Run along with Bowman, Fildes, and Stover. The latter trio meshed with Wood and Triska in Van Buren to produce the team’s score.
For the junior boys, Rylan Nichols and Joseph Carter also saw marked improvement. Nichols cut his Rattler time by 1:10 while Carter reduced the clock by 1:25.
The two seventh graders were joined by newcomer Joey Fildes for both races last week. Fildes turned in a 10:05 along the 1.5 mile Rattler race. He went 13:44.98 for the 2-mile Van Buren stretch. It was at Van Buren he earned his first career medal with the 15th best time among class 1A-4A runners.
Wood, Triska, and the rest of their running party look forward to another Mansfield product making history with a postseason victory. The middle school team is scheduled to attend Mena on Wednesday, October 21 for the Tom Sturthard Top 25 Regionals. Ten days later they will attend the 2A West District Championships in Magazine.