For nearly the entire 2018 cross country season, Mansfield’s seventh and eighth graders have been taking their cues from the Lady Tiger freshmen. At the Tom Stuthard Top 25 Southwest Regional in Acorn on October 24, it looked as if the younger athletes learned their lessons well. Without the benefit of their ninth grade teammates, the junior girls still brought home a trophy prize.
“This is on us,” exclaimed eight grader Jadelynn Wood before the start of the regional race. “Each one of us are gonna have to step up. We can do this.”
Wood, one of the Lady Tigers’ most improved players from a year ago, instinctively took over the leadership role on the junior team. Her older teammates moved up to the high school squad after the conference meet last week making them ineligible to participate in the lower ranks.
Wood emphasized to the nine remaining players that they could get the job done even without the services of their usual scorers. She was right. Seven sets of Mansfield’s young legs landed in the Top 25 and claimed the Southwest Regional Runner-Up Trophy.
Olivia Bouse paced the team with a third place overall medal. The eighth grader blistered the 1.5 mile loop in 10:33.6. It was her best overall finish of the season.Wood came in at ninth place. She trekked the short distance race in 11:10.9.
Others making the Top 25 from Mansfield included Heidi Ebarb (12th at 11:19.0), Raine Hecox (17th at 11:32.0), Alyssa James (19th at 11:38.0), Eden Mounts (21st at 11:57.3), and Darby Jones (25th at 12:25.2). All but Bouse, Wood, and Hecox were first time medal winners.
“It was a nice way to finish the season,” professed Mansfield coach John Mackey. “Many of our kids were so close to earning medals throughout the year. Now they can truly feel the hard work paid off.”
The junior Tigers’ participation was at a true regional meet. Multiple schools from multiple classifications represented from as far north as Mansfield to as far south as Horatio. In fact, it was these two directional opposites that dominated the proceedings.
Horatio finished first in the junior girls event with 25 points. Mansfield was second in the team standings with 45. Acorn closed fast for third at 50.
Lita Hecox and Lauren Poston completed the MHS junior girls’ running roster.
For the junior boys, they were in a similar boat as the girls. Most of their original team members moved up to the senior high ranks for this meet in preparation for the state meet on Friday, November 2.
Ashton Hinkle was the lone All-Regional runner for the Mansfield junior boys. The eighth grader covered the final distance race of the junior high season in 10:12.0. He crossed in 22nd place.
Logan Yoss, a ninth grader, stayed down in the junior high ranks to give Hinkle his only Tiger teammate. Yoss clocked in at 12:04.95 for 38th place.