Posted Date: 05/23/2018
The annual Mansfield sports calendar seemed so full. When the school year began with numerous football games, volleyball matches, basketball tournaments, diamond innings, and track meets the schedule seemed endless. Then as the days in May rolled over, and graduates walked the receiving line, it was only a handful of Tiger athletes that quietly concluded the nearly ten months of athletic mania.
So it was the last full week of school. The 2017-2018 sports calendar was dotted by the hands and feet of a select few Mansfield track athletes at the annual heptathlon and decathlon.
Representing the Tigers this season were Delilah McKusker and Lennon Woods in the heptathlon, and Blayne Bryant in the decathlon. The trio of Tiger track talent joined nearly 200 athletes from across the state for a the two day event that started May 16 and ended May 17 in Cabot.
Bryant was the first Mansfield male track athlete to attend the Arkansas Activities Association’s concluding track event in over a decade. McKusker and Woods continued a stretch of Lady Tiger multi-athletes in competition that started in 2003.
Corrina Wesley, another Lady Tiger, attended the heptathlon as an alternate. She also served as part of the required work force to ensure the events ran smoothly.
“It’s always a good time,” Mansfield track coach John Mackey announced. “We try to take the cream of the crop in character and capabilities to represent Mansfield. This year was no different. It was a special time and a good way to end the year.”
Mansfield’s representatives this year were young. The three in competition were all sophomores and still learning the nuances of the multiple event format.
“We were still teaching right up to the day of departure,” Mackey offered. “These were not normal events for this particular group of kids. But, they wanted to represent, and that’s half the battle.”
McKusker had the most to learn. During track’s regular season she was an All-District 300m hurdler with relay responsibilities.
Woods had high jump and long jump experience. She also ran the 800m distance as part of the 4x800m relay.
Bryant came the closest to knowing several categories of competition. He could throw, triple jump, run the 400m dash, and learned the pole vault about a month before districts.
The results were not the sort of times and distances that put the three into the conversation of the contenders. They were however elevated expressions of the predicted marks the crew sent in as part of the preregistration packet.
Woods scored 1,789 points for her seven event total. Those included the 100m high hurdles, long jump, discus, 200m dash, high jump, shot, and 800m run.
The highest point producer for the first time heptathlete was in the 800m run. She ran a personal best in the concluding event at 2:55.47. That measure was worth 408 points. Her next best tote was a 312 point haul from the high jump.
McKusker put herself in an unenviable position from the start of day one. The normally confident hurdler got out of step over an unfamiliar set of highs and fell coming off the last barrier. She rolled to the finish line giving her an unpleasant 34 points in the first event. It was a shock to her score especially since hurdles appeared to be one of her best areas going into the heptathlon.
The tenth grader did recover snagging 290 points in a 12’ 10.25” long jump. It was her first time to long jump in real competition. She closed strong on day one with a 31.45 second 200m dash for another 386 points. Her two day total was 1,538.
Bryant accumulated 2,772 points in his ten event schedule. He negotiated the 100m dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400m dash on day one. The his second day opened with the 110m high hurdles followed by the discus, pole vault, triple jump, and 1,500m run.
The beginner decathlete trained for the ten events while also participating in daily spring football practices.
“That’s a sign of his dedication,” Mackey cited. “It also shows his ability to juggle school, football, and track to become a well rounded person.”
Bryant’s best mark came from in the 100m dash at 12.81 seconds. He tallied 501 points for the effort. He got 352 points from the high jump after learning the vertical event only a week before competition. He also ran 5:55.70 in the 1,500m race which was equivalent to 6:19.41 mile.
“We’ve got good tradition here at Mansfield in track and field,” commented the coach. “Carrying on this tradition from the girls’ side, and now renewing it from the boys’ is important to us. It’s important to these kids that competed.”
Delilah McKusker, Lennon Woods, Blayne Bryant, and Corrina Wesley attend day one of the AAA affiliated state heptathlon and decathlon.