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Rattler Runners Unable To Keep Up With Jones

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If someone envied what another person had, and they strived to achieve as much as their neighbor; they were said to be trying to “keep up with the Joneses”. That innocuous phrase may have taken on a whole new meaning thanks to Mansfield High School’s latest cross country winner this past week.

On Tuesday, October 12 the Jones everyone was chasing was MHS Lady Tiger Darby Jones. At the Magazine Rattler Run, a large consortium of distance runners laid chase but could not catch Mansfield’s top performer. The senior blistered the course in a huge personal record to win the senior girls 5K race.

Lady Tiger junior high runners have found success this season.

Jones went the 3 loop obstacle in 20:08 to win the overall individual girls title. Even more impressive was who she beat and who was watching as she bettered her previous 5K time by 51 seconds. 

Jones passed and then pulled away from the 2020 Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star winner, Maggie Gregory of Pottsville. Gregory, who has drawn the attention of several postsecondary schools, would end up finishing second in the race. 

Mansfield junior boys keep momentum as they near the end of the regular season in cross country running.

Coming to watch Gregory among other athletes in attendance was Ouachita Baptist University Assistant Cross Country Coach, John Jones. By coincidence, Ouachita happens to be on the college wishlist of Mansfield’s Jones; no relation to the coach.

“It was curious that Coach Jones was one of the contacts we were going to make after the Magazine run,” said Mansfield mentor John Mackey. “Darby and I sat down and plotted a pace schedule targeting what we hoped would be a big run at the Rattler. It just so happened she set a PR and he was there to see it.”

Coach Jones made a beeline to the finish as the athlete Jones crossed for the win.  As fate would intervene, no need for email introductions now as the Joneses did a “face to face” as multiple Mansfield players continued to congeal the top 20.

Lady Tiger and college prospect Faith Rainwater rolled into sixth place. She set a personal record as well with a 21:39 mark. That was 1 minute and 16 seconds faster than her All-State performance from last year’s state finals.

Mansfield’s McKenzie Griffin gained momentum with another PR for the senior high Tigers. Her 17th place crossing was logged in at 22:26. 

Soon after at 22:53 was MHS junior Jadelynn Wood who posted a 20th place finish. Wood and the previously mentioned trio of Tigers were all anointed medallions for their efforts.

When Hope Rainwater passed the finish in 34th place, Mansfield’s women secured the small school team championship. Hope Rainwater’s new career best of 24:09 was the clincher. Teammate Katlynn Moore was next in a PR for her at 24:19.

“It was a good day to be a Tiger,” said Mansfield’s Coach Mackey. “All our players from top to bottom seemed to perform really well tonight. The light drizzle and cooler air made the conditions just right.”

Included in that scenario were junior high runners Laney Wood and Joey Fildes. The two individuals have been the top performers for the Tigers’ junior high girl’s team and boy’s team respectively.

Wood took second place overall with a 1.5 mile race time of 9:44. The outstanding freshman has won five first place finishes on the year and several seconds.

Fildes dug deep around the single loop course to eclipse his best time at the Magazine venue. The eighth grader produced an 8:34 clocking for the 1.5 mile race.

Top 5 finishers for the Mansfield junior boys were Fildes, Gunner Williams, Holden Powers, Rylan Nichols, and Joseph Carter. 

Powers, just a seventh grader, collected his first medal of the season with a 19th place effort in a time of 9:44. Williams, also a seventh grader, brought home his fifth medal of the year. He finished 16th in a time of 9:33.

The Mansfield junior girls were unable to score as a team as conflicts reduced the squad to less than the mandatory five runners. Addie Bowman, Aidan Fildes, and Ashley Martin followed Wood as the Lady Tiger completors. Wood was the only medalist from the group.

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