Out of the hundreds of athletes to participate in the 2016 North Dakota State Track Meet, one student wore his colors with pride after a 10-year absence from competition.
By COLE BENZ
Dakotah Mansfield, the lone athlete from New England High School to qualify for the state competition, said he was happy to be able to run for his own school after years of competing with Dickinson Trinity as part of the sports co-op.
“For my senior year it’s pretty good, to be able to go to state for my own school, wear my own jersey,” he said. “I know everybody in New England is proud of me.”
Mansfield qualified for the state meet in the 800 meter run quite early in the season. At a meet in Hazen in early April, he qualified with a time of 2:01.73 and had been working on his craft in the event all year.
New England head track coach Shawn Flaherty previously told The Herald how well Mansfield works throughout the season.
“[Mansfield] works hard, runs in the morning, gets a couple workouts a day. He is a hardworking individual, and is our lone senior boy, and one of our leaders out there. He is encouraging other kids, and he has made it more of a team thing with everybody which is admirable on his part,” Flaherty said.
Mansfield said he could have had a better race. He told the Herald that getting off to a better start would have proved valuable for his finishing time. Then coming around the far corner from the finish line, he wasn’t able to find an opening to pass other runners.
“I got boxed in [on a turn] and couldn’t get out,” Mansfield said. “Sometimes that’s just how a race goes.”
The race was ran in two heats, with Mansfield competing in the second. He finished with a time of 2:04.01, good enough for 11th place, but falling three places shy of garnering a spot on the awards podium. It was a close race to the end though, with less than a tenth of a second separating Mansfield from the 8th-place finisher.
He said he still had a good time considering his finish. He wishes it would have went different but that it was fun coming down to state and watching the best athletes in the state compete against one another.
Mansfield is a graduating senior this year, and had some words of advice for his younger New England teammates—just keep working. Admittedly, Mansfield said he wasn’t the greatest athlete in his younger, junior high years, but that hard work paid off.
“Just keep working” he said. “In seventh grade I wasn’t much either, but you just keep working hard and you’ll get somewhere.”
As far as his appearance in the state meet being a motivating factor for the team, he said he hopes it shows others that they can reach higher levels, and hopefully there will be a bigger Tiger presence next year.
“It shows the rest [of the team] that it is possible, because we’ve got some good guys coming up, so hopefully we’ll be back in next year.”