Male Athlete of the Year in Track & Field: Alex Mansfield, Jefferson

Jefferson’s Mansfield pushed himself to excel

Alex Mansfield remembered every day he aimed.

The Jefferson eldest took out a piece of paper before the start of the track and field season this spring and wrote down his goals.

SHOTPIT 70 FEET.

DISCUS 200 FEET.

“I wrote it down and stuck it on my wall,” Mansfield said. “Every time I woke up, I saw him.”

Those are lofty goals for any high school pitcher, even one as accomplished as Mansfield. He won a state championship in the shot put his junior year and was a runner-up in the discus.

Going into his senior season, Mansfield would need to add nearly 11 feet to his personal best shot put and about 36 feet to his best discus throw to achieve his goals.

Hard? Yes.

But Mansfield prefers it that way.

“It makes me more motivated and pushes me to keep going,” he said. “Sometimes it can get tough, but you have to persevere. … It was a good goal to set because if you don’t hit it and you’re a little short, you’re still doing really well.”

Mansfield fell short of his targets, but he still produced another outstanding season. He dominated in both throws throughout the season en route to a second consecutive state title in the shot put and another second-place finish in the discus.

Along the way, he broke his own Jefferson school records and was champion in both the Huron League, regionals, and the Michigan Interscholastic Track Coaches Association state team meet.

For all his success, Mansfield was named the Monroe County Area Men’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the Monroe News for the second consecutive season.

Jefferson's Alex Mansfield was named Monroe County Area Track and Field Male Athlete of the Year for the second straight season.

Mansfield hasn’t changed his goals for the season despite starting with a handicap.

The three-sport athlete suffered a non-throwing shoulder injury during the Bears football season. He missed three games and was restricted during the winter basketball season.

He knew there was no way he was going to be in top form at the start of athletics.

“I dislocated my left shoulder,” Mansfield said. “It didn’t really matter when throwing, but it made weightlifting difficult. I had to start from scratch and rebuild it.”

Doctors told Mansfield he had avoided a more serious injury and would not need surgery – just rest and patience.

“I was on pins and needles until I saw the doctor,” Mansfield said. “The way he explained it, I didn’t completely dislocate it, but it came out. I had to slowly start training again.”

Over the winter, Mansfield went from barely setting the bar to his pre-football season strength.

“It became more about technique than strength at that point,” he said. “I had regained the strength, but my technique was bad. You had to hit everything perfectly and it was frustrating. My foot could be a little too wide or a little too deep and it could ruin the whole throw. I felt myself -even because I kept messing up. The more I did, the more I kept messing up.

Mansfield and Jefferson’s throwing coach Bruce Pickens has worked on the mental side of the sport as much as the physical side.

A bit of hindsight helped.

Mansfield struggled to top his best throws of his junior year, but winning was never a problem. He swept the shot put and discus in every double Huron League meet and was champion in both events at the Erie Mason Invitational, Dexter April Showers Invitational and Saline Golden Triangle Meet of Champions.

“Even though I still wasn’t happy with it, I was still winning,” Mansfield said. “My worst day would always be someone else’s dream to hit.”

Jefferson's Alex Mansfield finished second in the shot put at the Midwest Meet of Champions.

Mansfield finally started to break through late in the season.

He threw a personal best of 60-06 in the shot put at the Huron League Championships and then broke that mark at the Midwest Meet of Champions after the season ended. His second-place throw of 60-07.25 at that event broke his own school record.

He also broke his own discus record with a 175-06 throw in the MITCA Team State Division 2 meet.

In the state final, Mansfield took first place in the shot put with a throw of 57-06 – more than 5 feet more than his nearest competition. He took second in the discus with a 167-03 shot, falling just behind Frankenmuth’s Dalton DeBeau (175-07).

Mansfield will continue his athletic career next year at Oakland University.

He also considered Michigan, Michigan State, Grand Valley State, and Charleston Southern.

Oakland was the best fit, he said.

“Once a bear, always a bear, joked Mansfield. “I still can’t believe I’m at this level where I can go throw in Division 1 schools. … Oakland is still Division 1, but a smaller Division 1. Personally, I like that. I don’t care about the big, big universities.”

Mansfield also felt a closer connection to the Oakland coaching staff.

“Everyone was super nice there,” he said. “Their pitching team is really cool. They have a smaller pitching team which is good because it’s more time with the coaches. Their facilities are really nice and they have a big dome where you can pitch at inside, which was really nice.”

Mansfield still has big goals for his future.

“I’m thrilled to be here and having them train me,” he said. “I hope I can become NCAA shot put champion.”

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