If cross country season were a novel, you might say that Mansfield’s freshmen class did a speed read over its first two chapters.
After turning a ream of awards at their first meet, the rising freshmen core once again flew through the pages at their second. At the Magazine Invitational on September 11, ninth graders Ethan Chapman, Steven Perez, Faith Rainwater, and McKenzie Griffin each collected another armful of accolades.
Rainwater, the lead runner for the Lady Tiger junior girls’ team, was only 11 seconds away from first place at the Magazine 1.5 mile race. Keira Hall of class 4A Mena took the individual title at 9:43. Rainwater (9:45) poured it on in the closing 600 meters to snag second place among 103 runners.
“Faith has really been training hard this season,” exclaimed head coach John Mackey of Mansfield. “She’s followed the plan since May and through the summer. She’s on top of her game and it’s showing at the meets.”
A week before Magazine’s shorter distance race, Rainwater was first at the longer 2 mile race in Fort Smith.
“The shorter race kind of hurt all our athletes,” observed Mackey. “We’ve been training for much longer events, especially in the senior high. The short mile and a half track threw off our pace.”
Chapman, also a winner at Fort Smith, crossed in third place for the MHS junior boys’ team. His time for the 1.5 mile distance was 8:15.
“Ethan had another good showing,” confessed the coach. “Again, I think the shorter distance but us at a disadvantage. Our junior high kids, especially the freshmen, are built for the longer runs.”
Griffin and Perez made the top ten in consecutive weeks for their respective junior high squads. Griffin came in at 10:17 for eighth place among the girls. Perez pushed through at 8:26 for eighth place among 124 junior boys.
Mansfield’s junior girl squad carried home their second trophy this infant season. This one was a runner-up plaque with 76 accumulated points. Lamar finished first with 62 points. Pottsville picked up a third place team finish among nine scoring schools and a dozen schools represented.
“We had a home volleyball game that same day,” revealed the Mansfield mentor. “That may have hurt our overall scoring. Two of our top five players play volleyball.”
Harleigh Mars, Hope Rainwater, and Raine Hecox completed the Lady Tiger scoring. Mars and Hope Rainwater are among that freshmen core making a solid name for themselves. Hecox is a seventh grader that the coach describes as a fast learner with a will to win.
Heidi Ebarb, Jadelynn Wood, and Alyssa James provided blocker positions. Darby Jones and Lauren Poston also competed among the large group of Mansfield distance runners.
Mikeal Harrison, John Branche, Ashton Hinkle, and Logan Yoss completed the junior boys racing docket. Harrison, Branche, and Yoss also hail from the freshmen class. Hinkle is a grade younger.
Collectively, Mansfield’s junior boys finished fourth as a team.
Mansfield’s senior teams ran the same course as the junior teams. Learning of the shorter distance just before the start, the older Tiger players had little time to form a fast paced strategy. Consequently, their times made little dent in the standings.
Newcomer Anina Reutter of Germany led the MHS senior girls as the first Lady Tiger to cross the finish line. From there the consecutive order of Mansfield finishers were Alyssa Berry, Josefin Lofving, Jessica George, Sara Willadsen, Addison Goetz, and Janna Coplin.
As a group, the Mansfield women were fifth among all contending schools.
Among 99 senior high boys, Mansfield’s two entries finished in the upper half of the large field. Renden Emery (9:05) and Artem Zirka (9:09) were 38th and 41st place overall.
The Mansfield cross country schedule shows Acorn as the next stop on the Tiger tour. That event was scheduled for September 18. Looking ahead even further, some team members will travel north to Fayetteville for the University of Arkansas’s Chile Pepper Festival on September 22.
A week beyond that, Mansfield will host its home meet on September 29 at 9:00 AM along the boundaries of the high school campus.