Posted Date: 10/31/2019
The narrowest of margins separated the Elkins Elks and the Lady Tigers of Mansfield for the junior girls conference crown at the 3A-1 West District Cross Country Championships.
The home town Elks found their course very familiar as they slid past Mansfield on a rain soaked course Monday afternoon. With the two teams’ top runners nearly equal in talent, it was the host school that surged near the end to take the win 58-62.
Mansfield, who was running on the Elkins High School campus for the first time in nearly 15 years, saw it’s unfamiliarity with the course do them no favors.
“We may have been a little hesitant not really knowing the complete lay of the course plus the conditions were not very good,” spoke John Mackey, the Mansfield head coach. “The course was so sloppy with mud and standing water, we just couldn’t make enough of the right moves.”
The two junior squads had three runners each finish among the top ten overall racers at the conference showdown. With All-District worthy times, those six separate players pushed their respective teams to within two points of each other.
Elkins had the slight lead with Mansfield trying to cut the margin. Ultimately, the Elks next two scorers used their home court advantage to widen the margin by an additional two points.
Mansfield once again was led by its promising star runner, Trinity Triska. Triska just a seventh grader, was the fourth overall finisher. Her time was clocked at 14:44 for the two mile loop.
Teammate and fellow seventh grader Laney Wood was fifth in the standings. She was timed at 15:05. Freshman Jadelynn Wood was the ninth fastest runner at the conference meet. She was marked at 16:01.
The three junior Tigers earned All-District status by virtue of their high placement in the conference standings.
Meghan Emery and Alyssa James completed the Mansfield junior girls’ scoring. The two finished in 21st and 23rd place respectively.
In the senior high division, only McKenzie Griffin cracked the top ten list for All-District accolades. The sophomore runner landed in tenth position as she exacted a little revenge for her younger teammates by passing a senior Elk in the final 300 meters.
Faith Rainwater, Mansfield’s top runner for most of the season, struggled along the district course. Last season’s All-State runner was in her first competition since suffering a foot injury at Van Buren on October 19.
The top Lady Tigers off the senior squad included Griffin (10), Darby Jones (14), Jadelynn Wood (17), Rainwater (19), and Katlynn Moore (25).
Wood doubled up her race schedule after exhausting her junior high eligibility. The rising freshman leader came back as a senior high athlete to run the 5K race in 25:42 after already completing the two mile race some 30 minutes earlier.
Alyssa James juggled the same scenario to also bolster the MHS senior high roster. She finished 33rd in the longer high school event.
On the men’s side, Ethan Chapman was the top Tiger. The team’s leading male runner all season took a slip in the mud and fell hard on the boggy back stretch. Chapman struggled to regain his momentum and fell out of the top ten by only three spots.
Renden Emery, one of two juniors on the team, crossed as the second fastest Tiger. His time of 21:45 was only 76 seconds behind Chapman’s 20:29 finish.
Emery (19), John Branche (20), and Ashton Hinkle (21) gave Mansfield three consecutive crossers. Victor Steffen at 25 rounded out the Tiger scoring.
Mansfield’s senior squads will head next to the Arkansas Activities Association’s State Finals on November 9.
The Tiger women are ranked number seven in the state. The men are rated number 13.
Waldron, the conference champion on the women’s side, ranks second in the state among class 3A schools. Elkins (4), West Fork (5), and Greenland (10) give Mansfield’s conference five teams in the state top ten.
West Fork (2), Waldron (5), and Elkins (12) join the Mansfield men in the state’s top 13.