The temperature was a balmy 34 degrees at the start of the Van Buren Running Festival on the last day of February. The Mansfield Tigers along with about a dozen other schools braved the cold temperatures and got some work in at the season’s first outdoor track meet before a slight mist and even colder temperatures invaded Pointer country.
“A year ago at this time we were still running indoor,” stated John Mackey the coach of the Mansfield Tiger and Lady Tiger track teams. “It’s been a long time, if ever, that we ran an outdoor meet in February. It was definitely cold.”
Mansfield took extra precautions in warming up their players and trying to keep them as comfortable as possible. About three-quarters of the way through the meet, coach made the decision that the line between risk and reward was to blurred for them to continue. The troops came home early skipping the last few events to avoid potential injuries that could have occurred due to cold muscles in sprint mode.
“We tried to get sweaty the best we could with an extended warmup routine,” said the coach. “There is only so much you can do in extreme temperatures like that. You could probably warm up for hours and never break a sweat on a night like that.”
Mackey assigned his new track assistant, Coach Kaylie Pyles, to supervise the bus as the team camped in its warmer confines rather than outside in the usual tent section. As the races proceeded, Pyles would send the respective athletes out early to get re-acclimated before their race.
Sophomore hurdlers Makayla Strutton and Renden Emery had productive nights despite the cold conditions.
Strutton, from the women’s team, posted a pair of scoring runs in both the 100m high hurdles and the 300m low hurdles. Her marks of 19.09 and 58.30 respectively placed her in the top six of the two events.
Emery, off the men’s squad, covered the 110m high hurdles in 19.96 to win his heat. Later, the second leading scorer off of last season’s junior high team posted a measure of 47.83 to take sixth in the 300m style hurdles.
Emery also ran second leg in the men’s 4x100m relay.
Tiger baseball player Randal Claude who double dips the spring sports started the relay. He and Emery were joined by Jake Smith and Jaicy Griffin to complete the seventh place grouping.
Griffin ran the 100m dash as the Tiger’s top sprinter from a season ago. He did not participate in the scheduled 200m dash as a precautionary measure. It was in the 200m dash at the 2018 state championship that Griffin finished in the top eight.
Strutton joined senior newcomer Sara Willadsen along with juniors Addison Goetz and Delilah McKusker as part of their 4x100m sprint team. The going wasn’t as good for the girls as limited reps outdoor led to an exchange zone infraction in the first turn causing a disqualification.
With the runners only format, Mansfield took only a limited number of participants.
Blayne Bryant and Artem Zirka joined the Tiger men as part of the sprint team and distance team respectively.
Lennon Woods served the Lady Tigers through the hurdles. Hailey Byers and Alyssa Berry completed the 400m dash. Josefin Lofving ran the 1600m.