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Four Tigers Turn In All-State Performances At Gurdon

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Pictured: Mansfield produced 3 All-State throwers at the Class 2A State Track and Field Championships on May 5. Skylynn Harris, Bri Sanderson, and Brooke Wright are pictured after claiming their high marks.

Mansfield’s track team was looking for more, but the bounty they hauled home from the class 2A State Track Meet in Gurdon on May 5 was still pretty good. With a pair of outstanding performances off the women’s team and another two from the men’s squad, the Tigers brought back four All-State performances and a renewed indication the MHS spring sport is back on track.

Brooke Wright headlined the afternoon for the Mansfield senior girls team. The All-State volleyball player as well as the Class 2A State Volleyball Tournament MVP, turned in another outstanding performance. Although in a different arena, Wright was right at home in her next best sport, the discus throw.

The senior, multi-sport athlete won the discus event with a career-best heave. In a highly competitive showdown with Janet Ridley of Yellville-Summit, Wright met the challenge with a final mark of 104’ 3” for the win and All-State honors.

Mansfield pinned three more names to the All-State list as the day moved forward. Teammate Skylynn Harris led for a moment in the shot put finals before getting knocked out of first by a mere 8 inches. Harris still met the All-State criteria with a silver medal, second place toss of 34’ 7’.

Ryan Hayslip off the boys’ team climbed into the high rankings next with a personal record in the pole vault. The junior vaulter, who picked up the vertical jumps event late last season before the Covid strike, had a fantastic day. Going over a height of 11’ 6” for the first time, the rookie jumper edged into second place narrowly missing first by 4 inches.

Mansfield’s Ryan Hayslip clears the opening height at the 2A State Track Meet. Hayslip goes on to clear a personal record 11′ 6″ to claim state runner-up and All-State status for his effort

As second place in a state track event assured Hayslip All-State status, teammate Bri Sanderson did similarly at the discus ring. Sanderson, a mammoth thrower for the Tiger men’s team, took second place with a throw of 133’ 9”.

Sanderson was in stiff competition with Jaxon Walker of Caddo Hills. The pair had been bouncing between first and second in the state rankings most of the season. At Gurdon, Walker woke up to beat the Mansfield native with a huge throw of his own.

The early field events were Mansfield’s main source of production. The Tiger women took the morning lead and held serve for a good portion of the day. With high marks in the long jump and 100m hurdles, their point production unfortunately nearly reached its peak with limited scoring opportunities remaining. 

The MHS girls were unable to keep pace as a tight race at the top of the standings got even tighter. They did hold on for sixth place among the potential 64 team bracket after flirting inside the top five team standings until the final race of the night.

Yellville-Summit, the favorites in the women’s division before the day started, had to win the final relay race to claim the 2A State Title. The new state champs did just that leaping ahead of Bigelow with a 10 point victory in the 4x400m relay. 

Bigelow, who had a one-point lead over Yellville-Summit going into the last event, only managed third place in the relay.

Yellville-Summit won the women’s team title with 89 points. Bigelow took runner-up with 86. Lisa Academy (80), Melbourne (76), and Parker’s Chapel (67.5) rounded out the top five.

Mansfield pole vaulters Haylee Helms and Faith Rainwater prepare for the state finals in Gurdon on May 5

Mansfield closed at 67 points losing out on a chance to claim their 13th state track title by a narrow 22 points.

The Mansfield men muscled up 30 points to form a tie with Melbourne for 8th place in the team standings. District 2A-4 conference rival Acorn won the men’s state championship with 90 points.

The MHS Tigers scored in the shot put with Sanderson’s fourth-place toss of 43’ 9”. They added a fifth-place nudge from Tyler Escalante in the 400m dash at 55.84. 

Tommy Phang sprinted a 200m dash in 25.30 to give them 2 more points from a seventh place mark. Phang also anchored the seventh-place 4x200m relay team with Escalante, John Branche, and Victor Steffen to complete their scoring.

The Lady Tigers pushed their total forward with 6 points off a third-place discus finish by Harris (92’ 4”). Makayla Strutton also claimed third-place points with a career-best 17.22 clocking in the 100m hurdle finals.

Danielle Lillie (17.91) and Madelen Jones (17.95) followed close behind as Mansfield went third, fifth, and sixth in the 100m hurdles.

Strutton, Lillie, and Jones teamed with Faith Rainwater to take fifth in the 4x100m relay. 

Strutton also claimed fifth in the 300m hurdles with another personal record. She navigated the eight barrier race in 51.83. 

Thrice more Mansfield took the fifth. Jones went 15’ 3” in the long jump finals for fifth. Jones, Lillie, Strutton, and Jadelynn Wood went 4:40.56 in the 4x400m relay for fifth. Then, Hope Rainwater, Wood, Darby Jones, and Faith Rainwater went fifth in the 4x800mrelay at 11:44.67.

Haylee Helms and Faith Rainwater both jumped 7 feet in the pole vault for sixth and seventh place respectively. Wright took seventh in the shot put at 28’ 3.5”.

Senior Victor Steffen takes a memory photo with track coaches Josh Bryan, John Mackey, and Kaylie Pyles at the conclusion of the 2A State Track Championships. Steffen was the leading scorer for the Tigers at the district level. He advanced to the state finals in the 110m hurdles, 300m hurdles, and 4x200m relay

Darby Jones and Faith Rainwater went seventh (2:51.59) and eighth (2:54.68) in the 800m run to round out the Lady Tiger scoring.

Helms, Shelby Cole, Natalie Allison, and Wood made the finals of the 4x200m relay but failed to point. Allison made the finals of the triple jump and high jump but was short of the scoring marks as well.

Sarah Fisher made the 200m prelims but her 33.06 time did not advance. Faith Rainwater and Darby Jones ran the 3200m run but were taxed from earlier races and did not crack the top eight places.

Wright, who claimed her individual state discus title on her next to the last throw, will now advance to the Meet of Champions. 

The MOC is populated by the six state champions from each state classification for each event. The next best 12 state marks regardless of classification are also invited to complete two heats per event.

This year’s Meet of Champs is scheduled for 1:00 PM on May 15 at Harding University in Searcy.

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