Posted Date: 12/04/2018
First impressions go a long ways. With only a few opportunities to solidify their status, it was five Mansfield runners that reached All-Star level.
Four freshmen and one foreign exchange student off the Mansfield cross country roster meet the standards laid out by Magazine head coach Randy Bryan. Bryan heads a committee of River Valley coaches that offer insight into the top runners in the regional area.
Led by All-State selection Faith Rainwater, the Tigers earned a total of five spots on the prestigious All-Star list. Joining her from the MHS roster were McKenzie Griffin and Shelby Cole for the senior girls team with Ethan Chapman and Artem Zirka for the senior boys list.
The River Valley All-Star squad is a yearly manifest of the top 15 girl and top 15 boy cross country runners from this central west part of the state. Membership stretches across AAA classifications lines from as far south as Caddo Hills and as far east as Russellville.
To make the initial list for consideration, girl runners must reach the 24 minute barrier for a 5K run. Boys must produce a mark under 20 minutes for the same distance. Once that floating standard which is determined year to year is established, the next cut reflects the top 15 times.
Rainwater, Griffin, Cole, and Chapman all Tiger freshmen only had the post season to meet the standards. As junior high competitors for most of the season, the four Mansfield long distance runners only had the conference championship, regionals, and state to race the 5K distance.
Rainwater knocked it out of the park on her first try and continued to gain momentum with increasingly faster times throughout the post season. Her fastest mark was a top 12 performance of 23:03.3 at the AAA State Championships in Hot Springs.
The Lady Tiger All-Star performer also achieved All-District, All-Region, and All-State status once she moved up to the senior high team this past season.
Cole clocked in at 23:57.00 at the Tom Stuthard Top 25 Southwest Regional in Acorn to earn her invite to the All-Star list. Griffin squeaked onto the RV All-Star roster by a narrow margin with a top 15 time of 24:06.8 also accomplished at the regional site.
Chapman and Zirka also found the flat course of Acorn to their liking. Each set personal records at the regional run to earn the River Valley distinction. Chapman produced a 5K mark of 19:08.5. Zirka went 19:43.0.
Each of the All-Stars from the River Valley region will receive a medal and an All-Star uniform for their accomplishment. The actual race that was schedule for November 10 was canceled due to extreme cold and very wet conditions.