Posted Date: 09/19/2022
The first race kicks off at 9:00 AM on Saturday, September 24. So says the schedule as the 19th Edition of the Today’s Bank Mansfield Cross Country Invitational readies for local runners.
Mansfield High School will play host to the long standing racing tradition sponsored by Today’s Bank.
“This partnership has been a good one,” announced meet director John Mackey. “We’re really excited that Today’s Bank allows us to add the extra amenities to make it a fun experience. The Mansfield Invitational typically draws a big crowd and brings some really talented runners from across the region.”
Among the many schools scheduled to attend will be West Fork. The Northwest Arkansas small school has been the standard of class 3A cross country in recent years. Last season their team made national news as West Fork twelve year old Rebel Hays guided blind runner Paul Scott through Mansfield’s 3.1 mile senior high course.
Hays, not officially a participant, served as the “eyes” of then sophomore Scott who finished 21st in the small school division of the senior boys race. Hays went on to win the 2021 Musial Award honoring acts of extraordinary sportsmanship and character.
Video of that incredible story that laid out along the perimeter of Mansfield High School can be found at https://musialawards.com/
That’s just one of the fascinating storylines that have come out of race results at the Today’s Bank races.
“If you are a fan of talented runners, this is the meet for you,” said Mackey. “We’ve had many college caliber runners come run our course over recent years. I can name nearly a dozen just from last year.”
“If you want local flavor,” the coach added. “This meet is also for you.”
Ft. Smith, Southside and Northside are among teams scheduled to attend. It was 6A Southside that dominated the senior girls division at Acorn last week.
Bentonville West, a 6A school coming down the I-49 corridor, brings a talent rich team that finished runner-up at Mansfield two seasons ago. Greenwood with a seemingly endless pipeline to running talent also joins the fray.
Magazine who sports the top ranked female runner in class 2A will join the mix. Scott County rival Waldron returns. Likewise, Lavaca who coincidentally is being coached by former West Fork assistant coach and former guide runner Justin Wyles makes a return trip.
For the home team Tigers, Mansfield’s senior girls rank among the top two teams in class 2A. Lady Tigers Trinity Triska, Laney Wood, and Jadelynn Wood are listed among the top entries from the small school division.
Senior Jadelynn Wood has already received interest from some colleges about running opportunities next season.
Mansfield has had six cross country runners move on to the college ranks over the last 10 seasons.
The MHS junior boys are poised for a strong finish at the Today’s Bank Invitational. Their squad has been populated by a veteran group of runners seasoned by back to back conference championships.
Tiger freshman Joey Williams leads that squad. Brother Gunner Williams, an eighth grader, and freshman Jonah Martin are among the team’s leading finishers each week.
Mansfield’s junior girls should expect a full team as four members of the school's volleyball team make their way over to the cross country course. Rylan Jones, Abby Smith, and Adeline Bray are among the top three finishers for the MHS junior team in recent events.
Four races are on tap for the Mansfield hosted meet. A rolling schedule will begin with the senior girls 5k race at 9:00 AM followed by the senior boys 5k, junior girls 3k, and junior boys 3k.
All races begin at the northeast corner of the high school campus. The running route follows along the perimeter of the school grounds with the finish line directly behind the main campus at the practice football field.
Awards for the Top 15 runners of each division will be presented at the conclusion of each race. Today’s Bank trophies will also be awarded for the top team winners.