Mansfield High School took the reigns of the Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star Cross Country Meet. The invitations were sent and accepted. The races were run. The results tabulated. And, the athletes reaped all the awards.

The day that honored these decorated athletes was Saturday, November 16. On a cool crisp morning along the perimeter of Mansfield’s senior high campus, some of the best endurance runners from across the local region gathered for one more glorious race of the 2019 cross country season.

Twenty-five class 1A-4A schools scattered from across 12 different Arkansas counties were included in the search for the top 5K racers. From that pool of players, an initial list of 40 athletes (20 women and 20 men) were asked to participate. In case of conflicts with the Arkansas-Oklahoma All-Star Meet or local basketball obligations, another 40 names were submitted as possible substitutes.

Off the initial list of All-Star invites, 65% of the players made arrangements to attend. The remaining players that filled the rosters were elevated in ranked numerical order according to best 5K times throughout the season. The results were a very competitive set of two races with nearly 40 high profile distance runners.

The high level of competition was never more apparent than the results of the men’s race. Logan Myers of Mena strained into first place by a minuscule one second difference ahead of Max Linares of Subiaco.

Myers’ winning time was 17:56.4. Linares second place mark was 17:57.4. The next five runners all came under 19 minutes for the 3.1 mile equivalent course work.

“One of our all-stars confessed to me that it was really intimidating to have such high caliber athletes in one setting,” said Mansfield Tiger coach John Mackey. “There weren’t many runners entered, but they were all so very good. Just being in the lineup was quite an honor.”

The top ten finishers in the men’s race all completed the two loop course in 19 minutes and some change. Further proof, this event carried some of the best talent in the small school rankings.

“It’s a real credit to the work ethic of these local runners,” explained Mackey. “Not to many years ago, only a handful of the small school male runners broke 19 minutes. Now, it takes being under 18 minutes to reach this new level of success.”

On the women’s side, Waldron’s Maria Grano continued her assault of the trophy stand. The freshman sensation won the first race of the morning with an outstanding time of 21:17.3. That easily shed her closest competition, Maggie Gregory of Pottsville, by 1 minute 49 seconds.

Grano and seven of her Waldron Bulldog teammates all made the All-Star race fresh off their state championship run a week earlier in Hot Springs.

Mansfield’s female runners earned the second highest amount of roster spots on the All-Star list compared to their Scott County neighbor. The Lady Tigers had two first round invites in McKenzie Griffin and Faith Rainwater. They landed three more from high positions off the alternates list. Those included Darby Jones, Jadelynn Wood, and Katlynn Moore.

Griffin, at number ten, found her way to the medal stand with a time of 24:20.2. For the last month of the season, she has been the Tiger’s top runner.

driving cross-country or across the street, you must wear your seat belt and it may prove to be the life or death difference for you and your family.”

NHTSA estimates that proper seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, and the risk of moderate to serious injury by 50 percent. In 2016, approximately 14,668 people survived crashes because they were buckled up. If everyone had worn their seat belts that year, as many as 2,456 lives might have been saved.

For more information about highway safety during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period, please visit www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov or call the Arkansas Highway Safety Office at (501) 618-8136.  For more on Arkansas’ ongoing Toward Zero Deaths campaign to eliminate preventable traffic fatalities, visit www.TZDArkansas.org.

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