Rains riddled the area Friday night and Saturday morning. With it a muddy, wet path was left along the course of the University of Arkansas’s Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival on September 22.
Mansfield sent a small band of junior high runners to participate in the Chile Pepper lineup featuring college, high school, and junior high races. Like many of the masses that attended, the Tigers found the ground slippery when wet.
Mud sucked shoes right off the runner’s feet. Downhills seemingly pulled the rug right out from under their legs.
It was slosh, muck, and sludge even though the rains held off during the actual races. Through it all, the collective feeling from the Tiger camp was that it was a lot of fun.
“It was so much fun,” said eighth grader Jadelynn Wood. “I fell a couple of times. I even have a muddy handprint on my back where someone pushed me.”
Wood was among a group of eight Mansfield runners to attend the half day long festival at the Agri Park off the U of A campus.
Faith Rainwater, McKenzie Griffin, Olivia Bouse, Shelby Cole, Harleigh Mars, and Wood represented the Mansfield junior girls. Steven Perez and Ethan Chapman ran for the Mansfield boys.
“This is really a prestigious meet,” said Mansfield coach John Mackey. “Among our kids, only those that meet Tiger qualifying marks are invited. It’s an exclusive club and these eight were excited and eager to participate.”
According to the official Chile Pepper results site, over 1200 runners completed the 5K junior high course. For the entire 11 race docket, there were 5,148 participants.
Rainwater, a freshman, performed admirably with a time of 25:15.9. It was her first official 5k race and the best mark among Lady Tigers this season including senior high runners. Rainwater’s time placed her 175 out of 525 runners.
Griffin, also a freshman, was seconds behind with a clocking of 25:19.9. She stormed across the line in 180th place.
According to teammates, Griffin was the only Lady Tiger not to slip and fall along the downhill section of the course.
Bouse, just an eighth grader, gave Mansfield three runners to break the 26 minute mark. She tallied a 25:26.8 measure for 188th place.
Cole (27:23.7), Wood (27:53.8), and Mars (28:04.5) completed the Lady Tiger scoring landing the team into 31st place. Fifty-six schools sent competitors to participate.
Perez and Chapman crossed in consecutive order in the boys race. Out of 722 runners, the Tiger pair claimed 274th and 275th. Perez’s time was 22:07.7. Chapman was 22:08.6
This was the first 3.1 mile race for all the Mansfield prep stars. Typically, the junior high division includes races of 1.5 to 2.0 miles in length.