Mansfield heptahletes Jadelynn Wood and Faith Rainwater.
Dedicated to the end, Mansfield’s top two Lady Tiger track athletes finished the 2022 school year at the state heptathlon.
MHS player of the year, Jadelynn Wood, and University of Rich Mountain signee, Faith Rainwater, were Mansfield’s final pair at the Arkansas Activities Association’s last track and field event of the season.
The two day, seven event extension brought together some of Arkansas’s best high school track talent. Spanning all classifications, the individual based track meet saw nearly 100 competitors display their versatility by performing in a wide range of events.
May 18th’s order of events included the 100m hurdles, long jump, discus, and 200m dash. May 19th concluded with high jump, shot put, and 800m run.
“It really is a fabulous time if you’re a track junkie,” noted Mansfield head coach John Mackey. “This is something our kids look at as a badge of honor. To be invited, and then to compete in something that Mansfield has a strong history with is a big deal.”
A look back at Mansfield’s involvement in past state heptathlons shows a history of which to be proud.
In 2005, Lady Tiger Crystal Kemp won the event in a near record performance. Five years later, Arkansas State signee Jessica Otto also took top honors.
Mansfield’s current head volleyball coach, Kaylie Pyles, took a top ten heptathlon plaque in 2012 as a sophomore. Henderson State volleyball standout and Mansfield alumist, Cheyenne Derr, was a top 15 automatic invite in 2009 as a junior.
Last season, Mansfield’s top product at the AAA showcase was Makayla Strutton. The two time heptathlete posted 2,765 points to close out her senior season as the 2021 Mansfield track player of the year.
Wood, Mansfield’s current POY and a state qualifier in six events, accumulated 2,659 points in her first heptathlon attempt. Trained almost exclusively as a hurdler and jumper, the tiny junior finished 48th overall among the long list of statewide entries.
Faith Rainwater, primarily a distance specialist and the class 2A state’s top four pole vaulter, tallied 2,442 total points. The recent Mansfield graduate, who has signed to run cross country next fall with the UA Rich Mountain Bucks, finished in 62nd place.
The current Lady Tiger heptathletes learned rudimentary throwing techniques and other unfamiliar events about two weeks before the Fayetteville competition. Concentrating on their usual event schedules for the class 2A outdoor state championships on May 3, the pair had little time to develop strong resources in the shot put, discus, and other novice events.
Described by their coach as being quite petite, the two heptathlete’s pure physical stature was a determining factor in a few of their low scoring events. An ultra-competitive mindset along with a stout aerobic base, according to their coach, factored into their high scoring marks.
“Those two girls come in at around 100 pounds each. The shot and discus events are not their forte,” joked Mackey. “They knew going in that those two marks were basically going to be castoffs. The mentality was to do their best in the familiar events, and live with the results in the others.”
Wood saw her best marks come from her favored events. That included the 200m dash in 29.13 for 545 points. A high jump clearance of 4’ 5” was good for 460 points. Her 18.67 time in the 100m hurdles registered 422 points.
“Jadelynn was winning her heat in the 100m hurdles,” described Mackey. “A little stumble off the last hurdle probably cost her a half second and another 60 points.”
Rainwater, as expected, excelled in the 800m run and 200m dash. She was limited in the high jump, hurdles, and throws.
The 800m middle-distance race was one of Rainwater’s typical track events. Her heptathlon two lap jaunt garnered 474 points off a 2:49.02 clocking.
The 200m sprint race became more familiar to Rainwater as the outdoor season progressed. Transformed for outdoor track from a cross country stable into a sprint relay starter, the senior runner was quick around the track. Her 200m dash finished 30.33 for 459 points.
“I was proud of what our kids did,” exclaimed Mackey. “ Half Pint (Faith Rainwater) actually beat people in the shot put with a throw of about 25 feet. She ran the high hurdles for the first and last time in her high school career in 20 seconds for almost 300 points.
So sad to see Faith move on, she’s been our leader since the beginning. She is Lady Tiger track.
JJ (Jadelynn Wood) was good in the jumps and sprints. She battled with a severely infected toe to run a 3:02 in the 800m. She shows extreme toughness time after time.
I’m so happy to have Jadelynn back next year. She is so motivated to have a great summer. She should step into that leadership role perfectly.”
The Arkansas Heptathlon concludes Mansfield High School’s 2021-2022 sports calendar.