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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Wood Wins Jr Race; Sr Lady Tigers Rated High

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Pictured: Mansfield’s Laney Wood, Jadelynn Wood, and Faith Rainwater medal at Mena’s Buck Fever Invitational. Not pictured is Trinity Triska, another Mansfield medalist.

Mansfield eighth-grader Laney Wood had one goal in mind and that was to be the overall champion. At the Buck Fever cross country meet in Mena on September 29, the young long-distance runner did just that.

“She (Alexis Franklin) got ahead of me for about three minutes,” recalled Wood, an eighth-grade runner for the Mansfield Lady Tigers. “I got mad and retook the lead. She wasn’t going to beat me.”

Wood went out with teammate Trinity Triska and Booneville’s Alexis Franklin in what turned out to be a three-person race. Although 69 total runners populated the field, the trio of rival runners left the field behind.

Cross country camp life is shown at Mena’s Buck Fever Meet

“Those three have been battling most of the year,” spoke Mansfield Coach John Mackey. “Now with Laney’s win, each has had a turn at beating the others. It was Laney’s time today.”

Wood cruised the extra-long course (2.40 miles) for the junior high addition in 17:02 for first place overall. Some 16 seconds behind that were the other two. 

The remaining pair, Triska and Franklin, would eventually finish an eyelash apart for second and third place overall. Chip timing nudged Franklin as two and Triska three.

“I think Trinity actually reached the mat before the Booneville girl,” said Mackey. “But, Trinity had the scoring chip in the opposite shoe and the computer sensor picked Franklin by 0.1 seconds.”

Mansfield’s senior girls cross country are currently ranked second in the class 2A state

Mansfield’s junior girls’ team score fell to third despite Wood and Triska’s best effort. Acorn forged ahead in the team standings as did Dardanelle leaving the junior Tigers short of the team crown.

“We’ve been consistently finishing third the last few weeks,” announced the coach. “Our three through five runners are not placing high enough for us to hold the lead. They are working on it though, and that’s a good sign with districts a month away.”

The senior girls have also been stuck in a third-place mode. Mansfield’s senior team was behind DeQueen and Waldron at the Buck Fever Meet.

The two Tiger women squads have been battling bigger schools for the top spot at local invitationals. Against strictly smaller schools, the narrative changes slightly.

Mansfield, in its own classification, has been rated as high as number two in the state. Pitted against schools their own size, the Mansfield women are among Quitman, Tuckerman, Acorn, and Bigelow as one of the top five teams to watch in Class 2A state.

Faith Rainwater leads the older Lady Tigers. She was 8th overall against all runners at Mena. Her time for the hilly 5K race was 24:19.

Mansfield’s junior girls XC team

“We are trying to cut about two minutes off her time for a real shot,” explained Mackey. “Faith is pretty motivated to do just that.”

Jadelynn Wood, just a sophomore, has been the number two Lady Tiger in consecutive races. Her time was 24:41 for 10th place overall.

“Jadelynn is catching fire right now,” said the coach. “Each week is another goal accomplished.”

Mansfield’s usual scoring five did it again at Mena. Darby Jones, Katlynn Moore, Hope Rainwater, Faith Rainwater, and Jadelynn Wood tallied the team score.

Moore was 13th at Mena. Jones crossed at 18th, and Hope Rainwater closed in at 24th.

John Branche was the Tiger men’s best runner at 22:38.70. The junior currently sits one position off the Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star watch list.

Rylan Nichols gave the junior boys its best effort. The seventh-grader completed the 2.4-mile course at Mena in 18:02.

Ethan Streets and John Branche await the start of the Buck Fever race
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