Some of the best track athletes in the state met for one last competition before the summer break. In the two day Arkansas High School Heptathlon and Decathlon Championships on May 15 and 16, it was Mansfield that was well represented by a trio of it’s local track stars.
For the Tigers, it was Renden Emery, Makayla Strutton, and Sara Willadsen that took on the challenge of the multiple events specialty meet. The group was escorted to the Fayetteville hosted competition by Mansfield head track coach John Mackey and assistant coach / jumps specialist Kaylie Pyles.
Emery was the Mansfield men’s leading scorer this past track season. He was recently named the MHS male track athlete of the year.
Willadsen was the top award winner for the girls team. She was also the leading scorer for the Lady Tiger senior high squad.
Strutton was an All-District hurdler for Mansfield and was it’s second leading scorer throughout the regular season.
Of the three, it was Willadsen that made the most of her last track meet ever. The senior, who actually graduated just two days before the first day of competition, scored 198 points above projections.
In four of the seven events in which Willadsen competed, she placed above the estimated line score that was sent in for her at registration.
“Sara had a really solid meet, and season for that matter,” stated Mackey. “She deserved to be in this competition. She trained in four brand new events just after the state meet. She delivered above expectations. We’re extremely proud of what she was able to do.”
Willadsen finished 59 out of 86 total heptathletes. Her total score for the combination of 100m hurdles, long jump, shot put, 200m dash, high jump, discus, and 800m run was 2746 points.
Her best event was the 800m run. She accumulated 469 points with a time of 2:49.48. It was the first middle distance race the track sprinter ran this year.
“Sara learned the hurdles, long jump, and both throws in just the past two weeks,” informed the coach. “We knew she would run a terrific distance race. The 800m is a gut check. Sara has more intestinal fortitude than almost anyone on the team.”
Strutton was within 15 points of her projected score. Her two day total was 2573 points. Her best events, which came at no surprise, were from her regular season event schedule.
Strutton ran the 100m hurdles in 18.39 seconds for 449 points. She turned the half lap 200m dash in 30.76 seconds for 430 points.
“Makayla had a good meet as well,” spoke Mackey. “”She is only sophomore, at least for the next few days, but already one of the best girl athletes in school. We’re proud of the way she competed in her group and overall among the great athletes in attendance.”
Emery was the lone Tiger to participate in the decathlon. The sophomore on day one entered the 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m dash. On day two he wrapped up with the 110m high hurdles, discus, pole vault, triple jump, and 1500m run.
“Renden is really a versatile player,” stated the coach. “As a tenth grader he’s just now getting a feel for his abilities. The weight room this summer will add some strength. The discus and pole vault, two strength events, were his weakest areas of the ten. Of course, he just learned those events two weeks ago.”
Emery totaled 4200 points while competing in Group Four. There was ten registered groupings with up to nine men per group.
The sophomore jump specialist had his best scoring from the high jump. He cleared 1.75 meters or 5 feet 8.75 inches.
“He was really jumping well,” continued coach. “For some reason he wrecked the last two attempts thinking his approach was too tight. I wish he would have trusted those steps and gave it a go at the higher bars. He was really on fire leading up to that point.”
Emery took 585 points from the high jump. He sprinted for another 509 points in the 100m dash. The discus only netted 259 points, and the pole vault cleared only 242 points when a 100 point deduction was charged for a third attempt.
The curtain call for Emery’s two day, ten event schedule was the 1500m run. Not running more than a two lap race since February’s indoor state championships, the Tiger’s featured player went 5:20.30 for the metric mile for 448 points.
With the conclusion of the Arkansas Activities Association’s specialty track meet, Mansfield wrapped up its 2019 season.
Next year’s 2020 team will be lead by a pair of seniors to be in Delilah McKusker and Lennon Woods. The two Tiger track athletes actually attended the heptathlon / decathlon as mandatory helpers. The two assisted Mackey and Pyles as the Mansfield coaches judged five of ten heptathlon high jump flights.