Persevering Through An Injury: Mansfield finds home with New England, non-contact sports

Dakotah Mansfield has grown up in the town of Grayling, Mich. his whole life, a town of around 5,000 people with a high school enrollment of 500 kids. He was taken by surprise when his mom Bambi broke the news that he would be starting his junior year of high school in a new school in North Dakota.

Dacotah Mansfield holding his two plaques from state track this year. He placed fourth in the 800 meter dash and fifth in the 4x800 meter relay team. [PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald]
Dacotah Mansfield holding his two plaques from state track this year. He placed fourth in the 800 meter dash and fifth in the 4×800 meter relay team.
[PHOTO BY RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald]
By RACHEL BOCK | For The Herald

Dakotah Mansfield has grown up in the town of Grayling, Mich. his whole life, a town of around 5,000 people with a high school enrollment of 500 kids. He was taken by surprise when his mom Bambi broke the news that he would be starting his junior year of high school in a new school in North Dakota.

Bambi Mansfield had accepted the Librarian position at New England Public School, and moved Mansfield and his sister Bennette to the New England area last August. Mansfield was only given a weeks notice that he would leaving his friends in Grayling behind, to move almost 1,100 miles away to a new school and a new town.

“I was kind of shocked at first, but there wasn’t really time to be shocked because I had to pack up my stuff, so I got over that real fast, spent some time with my friends, and then we came here (New England),” Mansfield said.

Mansfield was also surprised that his new high school only had fewer than 70 kids enrolled in the high school, and that he would have to run cross country and track in a town 30 miles away.

Though he enjoys running track, cross country and playing basketball, Mansfield still has an affinity for two more sports.

He also loved to wrestle, something he started in sixth grade. While he was in junior high, Mansfield was talented enough to qualify for a national wrestling meet.

Mansfield fell in love with the game of football when he started to playing running back in third grade. In junior high, some college recruiters vacationing in Michigan heard about Mansfield through area talk. The recruiters came and watched some of Mansfield’s football games during his junior high seasons. When Mansfield started his freshman year, the same recruiters came to a couple of his games and started talking to his mom Bambi, leaving her with their business cards. Because of NCAA rules, the recruiters couldn’t talk to Dakotah.

“They couldn’t officially talk to me, so I never really got to meet them” Mansfield said.

In October of his freshman year, he was involved in a mountain biking accident. As he was going too fast down a trail, he lost control and hit his head. He went to the doctor for concussion-like symptoms, an x-ray was taken of his head and neck.

While waiting for his test results to come back, Mansfield had to watch his football teammates from the sidelines.

When Bambi finally received the test results, she had to deliver some difficult news to her son. She went out to the football field to talk to Mansfield, and explain that the x-rays discovered one of his vertebrates in his neck is not sealed all the way. Because of that, he had to give up contact sports, for life.

“When she came out, I kind of thought it was a joke at first, but when she started crying I realized it was real,” Masnfield said. “It was hard at first, (but) you can’t change it, so I got over it.”

Since he can no longer be in contact sports, the doctors allowed him to play basketball and run track, which is something that already had experience in since his days as a junior high athlete.

To fill the void of football and wrestling, Mansfield decided to go out for the cross-country team his freshman year. Mansfield credits his track and cross-country coach back in Michigan with his success this year.

“My coach, he ran in college, and he gave me a lot of tips, he was helping me through cross country and track, and those tips helped me this year with racing” Mansfield said.

This last fall, Dakotah ran cross-country for Dickinson High School, and this spring he ran track for Dickinson Trinity. On May 22, at the ND State Track & Field Meet at the Bismarck Community Bowl, in Bismarck, Mansfield placed fourth in the 800 meter run with a time of 2:01.47. Mansfield was also on the 4×800 meter relay team. The team also included Noah Sickler, Lance Reiter and Colton Steiner, all from Dickinson Trinity. The placed fifth at the state meet with a time of 8:42.43.

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