NH’s Mannis runs her way to Dallas Baptist

Lady Panther gets scholarship after seven state meet appearances

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 7, 2008 - BIRTHRIGHT - After a stellar career for the North Hopkins Lady Panthers, senior Jessi Mannis will be running her way to Dallas Baptist University this fall.

Mannis put her signature on a college letter to run track and field and cross country Tuesday morning in the North Hopkins library.

"I was not planning on going to a Baptist college but that is something that I think will be good for me," Mannis said. "It is different from all of the other colleges that I was looking at.

"Everybody there was extremely nice. Their coach (Jason Phillips) reminds me a lot of Coach (Tim) Menke because he believes in hard work and dedication. All of the runners are really motivated, and they really want to win. That was something that I want to do also."

DBU is a member of the NCAA Div. II Heartland Conference and has a young cross country team with only four seniors on the combined men's and women's team.

In track, Jessi will move up in distance to the 5,000 meter-run (3.1 miles), the same distance she has mastered in cross country. In Texas high school track, the longest distance is the 3,200 meters (2 miles).

"It is not something that I am used to but I am sure the longer miles will be good for me. We have a camp at the college and I will be doing that during the summer," she said.

Jessi's mother, Pam, said picking Dallas Baptist University was left up to her daughter.

"We left it strictly up to her, and we told her that wherever she wanted to go was totally fine with us," she explained. "We know that once she graduates that we needed to cut the apron strings. This worked out great for us because our whole family will be in that area and I wanted her to find a college that would suit her. I wanted her to be able to do her athletics like she is wanting to do, and I want her to be happy."

Menke, who has coached Mannis in basketball, cross country and track, said Jessi made a name for herself as a long distance runner at North Hopkins by qualifying for the state cross country meet all four years and will be going for her fourth state track meet in the spring. He said her streak of eight straight cross country wins this fall was special to watch.

"Jessi started a very good cross country team with a lot of older runners," the coach said. "I think that helped her out because she was a part of a winning program, and the first two years she won two state championships.

"She has always maintained and had a real good finish in the state cross country meet her freshman year in 12th place. She came back her sophomore and junior years and finished sixth both years. She had a great year going this year winning eight straight meets and had a great regional meet in second place. She then got a stress fracture and we could not work out like we wanted to for state. She has been at the state track and field meet and was second in the 3,200 meter as a sophomore. She has been a good runner and a good worker all four years. We are pleased that she is able to continue her running in college."

Pam said the citizens of Birthright played a major role in the development of Mannis as a runner and the support was a major factor in getting her daughter to the next level.

"I wanted to let Coach Menke and everyone at the school know how important it is that they have backed Jessi all four years," Pam said. "It will be hard to see her go and I wanted everyone to know what they have done for her."

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