Posted Date: 09/27/2021
Things are shaping up for a special season for the five seniors off the Mansfield Lady Tiger cross country team. Already winners of two team titles this season before Saturday’s home meet, the senior team grabbed their most significant win so far this season.
Mansfield’s senior girls wanted to leave their mark by winning their final regular season run across the home campus. At the 18th annual Today’s Bank Mansfield Invitational on September 25, the experienced crew swept one-third of the medals on route to their third team championship of this season.
The MHS title team was configured by all seniors. Darby Jones and Faith Rainwater headlined the spirited bunch with strong finishes by McKenzie Griffin, Katlynn Moore, and Hope Rainwater. All five took medal placements among the top 15 small school scorers.
Jones set another personal record for the 5K distance with an amazing 20:59.38 finish. That mark placed her second overall in the 51 person race. It was nearly five minutes faster than her previous best time on the same course last season.
“Darby is really motivated to run fast this season,” said John Mackey, Mansfield’s head cross country coach. “She broke that 21 minute barrier for the first time today. That’s impressive. If I know her, she’s gonna be gunning for the 19’s real soon.”
Jones’s most recent career best now ranks her third among all class 2A runners in the state at the 5K distance this season. The top class 2A mark was posted by Kate Provence of Cedar Ridge on September 18 at 20:06.10.
Faith Rainwater also ran a season best and a near career best at the Today’s Bank home meet. The most decorated runner off the Lady Tiger squad went the 2 loop course in 23:01.66. It ranked her fourth among the small school finishers, and was five seconds shy of her All-State time at last year’s state finals.
“Faith is starting to come on as well,” said the coach. “She now ranks eleventh in the state with room to grow. I believe she too will get a couple more minutes trimmed off her time.”
Mansfield's other three seniors did their part. Among small school results, Griffin finished in ninth place at 25:06.31. Moore went for 11th place in 25:55.72 while Hope Rainwater crossed at 13th place in 26:31.75.
According to Mackey, who also served as meet director, the members of Today’s Bank Mansfield were impressed by the school’s runners and the overall organization of the event.
“Kellie Copeland of Today’s Bank came to me during the meet and let me know how well things were going,” smiled Mackey. “We appreciate Kellie so much for being our advocate. We’d also like to thank Nathan Hurst, the River Valley Market President, for participating in the awards. I think our kids put on a show as did all the runners from all the schools. The many volunteers from Today’s Bank and our school community made this work.”
Mansfield’s other teams didn’t quite reach first place but they have solid showings. The junior girls finished third as did the junior boys.
Laney Wood, a freshman, pushed the pace with a second place small school finish. Her time was 12:35.00 for the 1.8 mile race. Trinity Triska, also a freshman, came just behind that for third place in the 1A-3A division. Her clock read 12:47.06.
The Lady Tiger junior team with 50 points were behind champions West Fork (29 points) and runner-up Magazine (49 points). The Mansfield team’s 5 player average time was about 2 seconds below the second place team finish and nearly a minute from the first place group.
Aidan Fildes was the team’s third best runner in 21st place. That was supported by Danielle Lowery’s 25th place score and Addision Bowman's 29th position.
Joey Fildes off the junior Tiger’s men squad was stiller once again. The group’s leading scorer so far this season found the finish in 11:13.18. He was in fourth place among the 1A-3A division runners.
Gunner Williams came in 13th place. The seventh grader ran 12:07.87. With that mark a string of consecutive runners from Mansfield finished next. Rylan Nichols (14th in 12:16.08), Jonah Martin (15th in 12:16.54), and Trey Powell (16th in 12:21.94) all crowded the line for the Tiger score.
Fildes, Williams, Nichols, and Martin all medaled for the Mansfield men. Wood and Triska were the only Mansfield junior girls to take home individual hardware and stand atop the awards podium.