It was another milestone in the brilliant cross country career of Mansfield senior Megan Rose. For the third consecutive year the college bound runner won the individual conference title and saw her teammates come through in the clutch for the team trophy.
All totaled in the four divisional races on October 18 at Mansfield’s Tiger Trail, the host team Tigers captured 3 trophies and 13 individual medals for an afternoon’s work. Along with the senior girls’ first place championship plaque, the roster produced two runner-up team trophies as well.
The MHS senior boys despite having two of the top five runners in all the conference were ineligible for a team award. Devon Pyles and Joris Felius finished third and fifth respectively for the Tiger men. Only Lamar of the eight team conference could produce higher placing competitors.
Because of the rules governing cross country, a team must have five athletes finish the race to be regarded as a team. Mansfield only entered two of the required five thereby leaving them to collect only individual medals in the senior high men’s 5K race.
On the flip side, Rose and her 22:44.11 conference winning time was accompanied by seven others Lady Tigers. Three joined the senior atop the top-ten All-District medal stand. Lady Tigers Lennon Woods at third place (24:47.08), Natalie Brewer at ninth (26:36.61), and Corrina Wesley at tenth (26:38.30) included.
It was Mansfield’s fifth best runner on the day that made a huge difference. Coming off a knee injury that has sidelined her for nearly the entire season, junior Alyssa Berry came through in a big way.
With about a half mile to go, Berry trailed Two Rivers’ fifth best runner. At the urging of her coach, John Mackey, Berry kicked into a higher gear to pass the Gator runner before the finish. Berry was 14th.
“That’s not the only blessing we received in the most competitive conference finals we’ve had in years,” explained Coach Mackey of his team’s close victory. “Lennon had to beat the Gator’s second best runner. She did. Natalie and Corrina had to put a wedge between the next two Gators. They did. Everyone did what they needed for us to win. It’s just the way Lady Tigers are brought up!”
The Mansfield women accumulated 34 points from their top five runners for the win. Two Rivers trailed in a close second at 38. Atkins who showed signs of being a contender earlier this season at Magazine finished at third with 63 points among the eight team league membership.
“Megan was gonna win,” continued Mackey. “She is one of the all time Lady Tiger greats. It was up to her teammates if they were gonna win the whole thing. It was a nice graduation present for the senior laden team.”
In the younger girls’ division, Mansfield took second in the team standings despite having four of the best runners in the district. Olivia Bouse was second overall at a season best 12:25.91. Faith Rainwater crossed at fourth in 13:25.69. McKenzie Griffin followed at seventh in 13:38.12 while Harleigh Mars took eighth place in 13:38.96.
“It was disappointing to do so well and fall short,” said Mackey, the coach of all four Tiger cross country teams. “We had some junior high kids that focused on other sports leaving us without a bell cow to rally around. But, I’m proud of the accomplishments of this team especially since they are so young.”
A blockade of Lamar Warriors matched or surpassed several of the Lady Tiger juniors. The results put them into first place with 28 points. Mansfield settled for the runner-up prize with 36 points when Jadellyn Wood, Hope Rainwater, and Lita Hecox completed the scoring and displacer points for the home team.
A similar fate fell on the Tiger junior boys. Lamar simply had to much depth and the district’s top two 3K runners.
Mansfield’s Ethan Chapman did what he could. But, the rookie eighth grade runner could only get within 37 seconds of the winning time. Chapman finished in third place.
“Ethan ran a heck of a race,” puffed his coach proudly. “He has a really good future in this sport. Running 1.8 miles in 11 minutes and 10 seconds is a pretty good accomplishment. Look for him to be a contender for years to come.”
Mansfield’s Steven Perez wasn’t far behind finishing in sixth at 11:40.26. Tyler Escalante also medaled as a top ten All-Conference runner with a ninth place mark of 12:01.98.
Levi Escalante missed the medal stand at eleventh (12:20.77) but climbed into the Tiger scoring five along with Dru Buckner at number thirteen (12:42.52).
Lamar was again the champion with 25 points in the junior boys’ race. Mansfield took home their second runner-up conference plaque on the night with a 42 point accumulation.