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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Tigers Notch Win At 5K Stampede

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Pictured: Mansfield’s senior girls cross country team start the season two for two in victories

The Mansfield senior girls have started the 2021 cross country season red hot. On consecutive Tuesday afternoons, the senior-heavy Lady Tiger team won back-to-back team titles at regionally located races.

This past Tuesday, Mansfield’s Darby Jones once again led the pace with a furious race to the finish. The senior All-Star pushed through the heat at the Tom Stuthard Stampede in Acorn to scorch the field by nearly two full minutes. 

Like the week before in Perryville, a stellar supporting cast joined Jones’s victory to give the Tiger team a collective win. Faith Rainwater, Jadelynn Wood, and McKenzie Griffin pushed past the finish in the top 10. Hope Rainwater crossed as Mansfield’s number five runner just 12 places the group to set the team score at 38 points.

Jones completed the first loop of the 5K race ahead of all contestants by approximately 40 seconds. Taking the contenders out at a rapid pace, many of the local favorites could not keep in step as Jones pulled away in the second section.

Lady Tiger Darby Jones clears the woods starting down the final stretch to the finish at Acorn

“Darby is not the fastest girl in a short foot race,” confessed Mansfield head coach John Mackey. “However, over the long haul, few can stay with her constant speed for such a long period of time. Tonight, she really turned some heads with her elite effort.”

Jones clocked in at 22:54.4 over the slightly elevated terrain around the campus of Acorn High School. That mark blistered the field and took the individual victory by nearly two full minutes.

Maria Grano of Waldron, the Bulldogs bell cow for the past few seasons, struggled in the heat. The class 3A All-State athlete fell behind and could only come marginally close. She finished in second place with a time of 24:52.5.

The top five scoring teams for the senior girls’ race were Mansfield (38), DeQueen (51), Waldron (65), Acorn (77), and Danville (131).

Not only did Mansfield win the individual title in the senior girls’ race, but they also won the individual title in the junior girl’s race as well.

Lady Tiger freshman Laney Wood ran a hard-fought battle with Acorn’s Chanity Hall. The pair pushed nearly step for step the entire 1.55-mile loop. 

Laney Wood, the junior girls champion at Acorn, is flanked by teammates Aidan Fildes, Addie Bowman, Ashley Martin, and Rileigh Parker

Wood kept a 2 to 4-second cushion on the hometown favorite for most of the course. The real battle came in the closing 50 meters. Hall passed Wood in the final stretch for a nerve-wrenching few strides. Wood reacted back, digging deep to pass the fellow freshman in the final steps to the finish.

Results showed Wood taking the individual win by 1.3 seconds over the conference rival.

“Laney is tough,” announced Mackey. “She doesn’t give up. She sacrificed a chance to go play volleyball with the school team to go run with us instead. It paid off big time. That was a great win.”

The junior Tigers were short-handed because of the conflict in sports schedules. The team only carried five junior girl runners to Acorn. All who crossed the finish line for the Tigers made the Mansfield team score.

The combination of Wood, Addie Bowman, Aidan Fildes, Ashley Martin, and Rileigh Parker worked together for a fifth-place team finish. Bowman won a top 20 medal along with Wood.

DeQueen won the junior girls division. Acorn, Nashville, Waldron, and Mansfield rounded out the top five.

The Mansfield junior boys were led by brothers Joey Fildes and Gunner Williams. The Tiger pair both brought home medals with Fildes taking 10th overall and Williams scoring 17th.

Like the girl’s team, the Mansfield men were also limited in numbers. Quarantine criteria limited the squad to only five players this particular outing.

Gunner Williams, Joey Fildes, Joseph Carter, Braxton Bartlett, and Jonah Martin compete for the Tiger cross country team

Joseph Carter (35), Jonah Martin (38), and Braxton Bartlett (40) joined the brothers for the Tiger team score. It placed the crew into fourth place overall behind DeQueen, Waldron, and Nashville.

Fildes’ team-leading time was 10:59. Williams was 21 seconds south of that with an 11:20 clocking.

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