Comparatively speaking, the results of the 2019 Mansfield track season fell below it’s usual high standards. For exactly two decades, the Tigers have enjoyed large helpings of district and state success. This year, a modest dip in performance along with an influx of larger sized schools into the conference put Mansfield in unfamiliar territory.
Despite the challenges, Mansfield managed to advance four athletes into the April 30th state championships in Green Forest. The small band of Tiger track and field stars found their way to that next round through all-district marks achieved at the 3A Region 1 West conference meet held at Mansfield on April 22.
Going on to compete at the class 3A state finals from Mansfield will be Sadie Roberts, Bri Sanderson, Makayla Strutton, and Sara Willadsen.
Roberts, just a freshman, claimed her ticket by clearing 4’ 11” in the high jump for second place in the conference championship. The young vertical leaper actually tied Jaden Kirkendoll, the district winner out of Waldron, with the same height. However, a series of early misses by Roberts pushed her into the lower overall placement.
Bri Sanderson, a sophomore thrower off the men’s team, made it to the state stage because of his 109’ 7” discus toss. The mark placed Sanderson into second place in the conference standings and advanced him to the Green Forest meet.
Strutton, a sophomore off the Lady Tiger roster, found her way to the state finals by the narrowest of margins.
With identical 100m hurdle times recorded at 18.30 seconds, Strutton and Joyce Ferguson of Waldron basically tied for second place. Another move of the computer mouse running the video review displayed the pair were separated by a thousandth of a second.
Strutton’s slight edge sent her to the state meet. Ferguson’s one thousandths of a second too much time left her home with a third place decision.
Willadsen, the only senior off the Tiger stat sheet to advance, did so with a personal best 13.81 second run in the 100m dash.
“Sara has been our hardest working player all season,” said long time Mansfield coach John Mackey. “How appropriate that she had to do it the hard way by winning the next to the last heat. All the faster runners were in the third heat. Sara had to post a fast time then play the waiting game.”
The fully automated timer perched above the finish line at Tiger Stadium sandwiched Willadsen’s time between 13.79 ran by winner Chloe Morrow of Cedarville and 13.87 ran by third place recipient Katie McBroom also of Cedarville.
Overall, Mansfield’s girls finished fourth in the team standings. Waldron won. West Fork was runner-up, and Cedarville came in third.
To Mansfield’s detriment, a reclassification by the Arkansas Activities Association sent the conference’s top two finishers into the Tiger’s league this 2019 season. Both those institutions competed in class 4A last season. Moreover, two more towns that competed as class 4A schools a year ago entered the district to make exactly half the conference former big school foes.
The Tiger men fell all the way to seventh in the conference standings. Waldron, Elkins, and West Fork, all former big schools, took the top three places.
Mansfield’s men endured a rough end to a promising start of the season. Injury to key starters and normal attrition depleted the Tiger roster. The group put up a strong fight despite only having a dozen disciples left to man the shores.
Renden Emery scored the most for the men through two jumps and both hurdle races. Jacob Brown threw his way to a third place discus mark. Ethan Chapman, Mikeal Harrison, Victor Steffen, and Artem Zirka placed through the distance events.
Randall Claude, Dru Buckner, and Logan Yoss covered the relays. Zayne Dugan and Shawn Brown added to the throws campaign.
The Lady Tigers had Willadsen and Strutton serve as their top two scorers. Large production also came from the team’s top thrower Brooke Wright.
Delilah McKusker, Shelby Cole, and Lennon Woods helped in the relays and hurdles.
Faith Rainwater, Hope Rainwater, and McKenzie Griffin scored in the distance events. Alyssa Berry, Cole, Roberts, and Willadsen all pointed in the pole vault.
Athletes that finished as a top two advancer in any event at the conference track meet earned All-District honors. Roberts, Sanderson, Strutton, and Willadsen fit that bill.
Third place medalists moved into honorable mention status. Wright and Jacob Brown donned those capes.