So far this early cross country season, the sun’s heat has hit like a ton of bricks. It’s been heavy, never gives in, and never goes away. Its weight has been overwhelming causing times to drag down with each and every sun beam that presses down.
But, Saturday it was different. To the delight of the Mansfield long distance runners, their trip to Caddo Hills was a blessing. You might say they found a Shepard of the hills bring cooler weather along the campus course.
“There was this one part,” noted sophomore John Branche. “It seemed like a shot of cold air flowed through a tunnel. It was really nice.”
The mostly shaded 5K loop offered the relief the Tigers have been looking for to run fast times. Likewise, the 9:00 AM start helped insure the temperature was a moderate degree during the race.
Mansfield’s results were impressive. Not just seconds, but huge chunks of minutes were shaved off the season totals of the Tigers.
“At first I thought the course must be short,” confessed John Mackey, the MHS coach. “The maps swore the measurements were accurate. It was pretty flat with a downhill finish. Our kids really enjoyed the fast track.”
Medal regular Ethan Chapman, who was disappointed that he didn’t break the 20 minute barrier at Mena, was elated with a 17:08.91 Caddo Hills 5K run.
Tiger teammate Renden Emery whittled away his first meet time like a chainsaw cuts butter. Remnants flew in all directions as his Caddo Hills effort was seven minutes faster than his Fort Smith time. Emery went 19:17.12.
Branche shaved three minutes off his last outing and nearly four from the first meet of the season. His time at Caddo was 19:29.13.
The senior girls faired just as well. Medal winners Faith Rainwater and McKenzie Griffin cut three to six minutes off their previous season best marks. Rainwater, the number five overall finisher, went 21:10.98. Griffin, who crossed just behind her own teammate, went 21:40.55.
Besides the cooler temperatures and faster times, the story of the morning was the continued progress of seventh grader Trinity Triska. Finishing in the top four at each meet this season, Triska blazed her 1.5 mile course in 10:21.07. That mark was good for second place overall.
So far this season Triska has been fourth, third, and now second. Her coach kidded with the rising star noting if the pattern continues, one is the next number.
Jadelynn Wood and Lanny Wood had their third consecutive medal winning performances as well. The sister duo went 10:52.20 and 10:54.55 respectively for sixth and seventh places.
Overall the Mansfield junior girls were third place as a team. Jessieville took first at 51 total points. Nashville came in second at 59 points. Mansfield collected 63 points for the third place plaque.
Freshman Ashton Hinkle continued his progress as well. He competed in the junior boys’ 1.5 mile race finishing at 14th in 9:58.96. He will move up to the senior high team for the remainder of the season to complete that core giving them the necessary five man scoring roster.
Senior Lennon Woods made her season debut for the MHS senior girls. Sophomore Harleigh Mars will give it a try at the Tiger’s next meet. The addition of the two upper classmates will give the senior girls the necessary scoring five.
Logan Yoss, who has nursed a nagging knee injury, made his season debut as well. He ran a 20:27.20 for the men’s team.