It wasn’t as easy as pulling through the drive-thru window and cashing a check. It took some real money crunching. But, the Mansfield junior high Lady Tigers cracked the endurance vault to win their second consecutive team cross country title of the season at the 16th Annual Today’s Bank Invitational on their home course.
With 25 schools and over 600 athletes registered to compete at the Saturday, September 28 cross country meet, it was the host with the most that shined prettier than a new penny.
The little ladies of Mansfield with their youth filled roster roared as a team to take down Waldron in the small school division for a 47 to 59 victory. Led by top Tiger Trinity Triska, who’s just a seventh grader, Mansfield bested a field of 62 small school runners and a total field of 111 junior girls for the Today’s Bank first place plaque.
As they have all season long, Mansfield sisters Laney Wood and Jadelynn Wood finished among the top medal winners. Respectively, the seventh and ninth grade siblings claimed seventh and ninth place in the 1A-3A divisional race.
Triska’s sixth place finish, Alyssa James’ 21st position, and Addison Bowman’s 23rd spot, completed the scoring five for the Lady Tigers’ team win. Azlynn Nelson and Eden Mounts served as the units first two displacers.
It was the Mansfield team’s second championship trophy in a row as they also won the Tom Stuthard Stampede in Acorn a week ago.
Like the 1970’s Jackson 5 song ABC, Mansfield’s overall performance among all squads was “as easy as 1, 2, 3”. That’s to say, Mansfield’s three total teams finished first in the junior girls, second in the senior women, and third in the senior mens events.
Mainstays among the top scoring women, Mansfield’s Faith Rainwater and McKenzie Griffin didn’t disappoint running the longer 5K course at the home show. Rainwater, last year’s player of the year, was fifth overall in the small school class. Griffin only 25 seconds behind her teammate was eighth.
Joined by Darby Jones, Katlynn Moore, and Shelby Cole; Mansfield was able to take second place behind a very strong Waldron Lady Bulldog team.
Mansfield’s older team had been limited by numbers and unable to compete for team titles up to this point. Two of their preseason favorites, Harleigh Mars and Hope Rainwater, have been out of the lineup with injury and most likely will not return.
Cole, the 24th best runner at Today’s Bank, just returned to racing this week after she had been absent from the meet schedule with illness. Moore (23rd), who was in softball offseason until recently, joined the squad when she saw her school’s cross country friends needed a boost.
Jones has improved steadily throughout the season and has established herself as the third best runner on the Tiger team. She narrowly missed the medal stand at the home meet finishing thirteenth, but has earned many medals so far this season.
Victor Steffen offered a similar sacrifice for the school’s senior men’s team as Moore did for the women. The eleventh grader transitioned from track offseason to the men’s cross country team to give them numbers to compete as a unit.
The lineup of Ethan Chapman, Renden Emery, Ashton Hinkle, John Branche, Logan Yoss, and Steffen muscled out a third place team stance for the Tiger men at the MHS Invitational.
Chapman in typical fashion led the Tiger core with its top time. The sophomore finished fourteenth among a crowded field of small school racers. Emery was 24th followed by Hinkle, Branche, and Steffen in consecutive order at 28, 29, and 30.