Posted Date: 11/15/2022
Had the 2022 Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star race started on Thursday, the area’s elite cross country runners would have enjoyed a calm, 80 degree, sunny day. As is the case when you live in Arkansas, much can change in 48 hours.
Fifty-three of the best small school runners in the greater River Valley area still saw a sunny day for Saturday’s All-Star event held on the campus of Mansfield High School. It’s just that the early morning temperatures on the actual race day had dropped about 1 degree per participating player.
Undeterred by 30 degree temperatures and constant winds, the competition heated up quickly as the event sponsored by Farm Bureau Agent Roger Thompson added a team element into the mix.
“Yes, it was cold,” noted meet director and Mansfield head cross country coach, John Mackey. “These kids are winners in every sense of the word. That’s why they are All-Stars. Cold and windy weather doesn’t stop All-Stars. These kids are born to run. It’s what they do.”
Immediate gamesmanship ensued as All-Star teams were announced late Friday night. Typical teammates from highly successful programs began bold talk within their own ranks as their collective talents were divided into all new super teams for the Farm Bureau festival.
Twenty-five of the area’s best female runners selected from a pool of 35 schools across 7 counties were assigned to Teams Martin, Greathouse, and Weathers. Twenty-eight of the area’s best male runners from the same geographical area were configured into Teams Rodriguez, Garcia, and Maldonado.
Schools like Acorn, DeQueen, Pottsville, and Mansfield received multiple invites. Their regular season teams finished top 3 or higher at their respective state championships to offer player diversity among the newly constructed All-Star units.
Schools like Clarksville, Mount Ida, and Scranton sent high ranking individuals that finished first or second overall at their respective state meets.
Mansfield and its staff took on the task of generating the virtual meet that ranked the River Valley performances throughout the season. Best times over the last six weeks placed qualifiers onto an invitation list that reached 40 deep per gender team.
The Top 25 male and Top 25 females confirming participation advanced to the actual race featuring two gender specific 5K races. A few players off the short list of alternates also participated, expanding the field of active runners to 53.
Mansfield garnered three girls on the active list. Senior Jadelynn Wood participated in her fourth FBRV All-Star event. Sophomores Laney Wood and Trinity Triska received their second consecutive bid.
Mansfield also placed 2 boys on the race day schedule. Freshman All-State runner and 2A-4 Conference medalist, Joey Williams, was the fifth ranked runner on the men’s roster. Freshman teammate Jonah Martin, the fourth fastest ninth grader at the class 2A state finals, entered the men’s race under a coach’s exemption.
Williams was the Tigers’ highest finisher on the chilly morning race. He equaled his pre-meet seeding by finishing fifth in the actual 5K men’s race. The freshman’s time was 18:17.34. That measure was around 50 seconds south of the All-Star winning time of 17:27.56 run by DeQueen’s Randy Rodriguez.
Mansfield’s Martin was on Team Rodriguez, named after the highest qualifying boy from DeQueen. Team Rodriguez won the team title with 34 points. Team Garcia came in second with 38 points followed by Team Maldonado with 55.
“As it turned out, the team averages were really close,” said Mackey. “In both races, the cumulative times and team averages really reflected the attempt to equalize the teams.”
In the women’s race, Team Martin led by Pottsville’s Mayli Martin, took top honors with 36 points. Team Weathers, captained by the overall winner Macy Weathers out of Clarksville, came in second at 37 points.
Macy Weathers won individual honors with the fastest women’s time clocked at 20:54.54. One week earlier, she was second overall at the class 4A state meet.
Comparing total times, Team Weathers actually had the fast accumulative time and total average. However, Team Martin’s fifth scoring runner was able to establish a two player gap that made the one point differential.
Lady Tiger Jadelynn Wood ran under the Martin mantle as part of the winning team. Triska, who ran Mansfield’s fastest time (24:31.27) of the Lady Tiger trio in Saturday's race, was on the second place squad. Laney Wood, who finished in near exact step with older sister Jadelynn, crossed under the Greathouse flag. Team Greathouse totaled 49 points as the third place team.
All participants received keepsake uniforms, All-Star certificates, participation medals, and a chance to earn a Top 10 race medal. The scoring five from each of the two winning teams received an additional certificate and will have their names engraved on a perpetual team plaque carried for by the All-Star host school.
Thompson, a 1978 Mansfield High School graduate, sponsored all individual awards.
Derick Goodin, a member of the River Valley Run Club and Fellowship of Christain Athletes, offered inspirational words prior to the concluding awards ceremony. Following the awards, the River Valley and Mansfield FCA ambassadors provided all athletes, coaches, event volunteers, and guests with a taco bar luncheon.
Mansfield’s coaching staff wanted to thank Bernie Simon and Jennifer Chick for facilitating the lunch. They also wanted to extend their appreciation to Derick Goodin as well as event volunteers for making this year’s small school All-Star race so memorable.