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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Mansfield XC Runners Experience Bad Tempered Buffalo

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Pictured: Members of the Mansfield cross country team stand on historic grounds overlooking the Arkansas River. The Tiger runners saw first hand the cornerstones making up the original Fort Smith at Belle Point.

Just over 200 years ago in 1821, Osage Indian leader Bad Tempered Buffalo led more than 200 warriors to the banks of the Arkansas River. Their camp was across the river from Fort Smith in good view and well below the fort’s elevated location at Belle Point. 

The Osage were there in part because they had learned in March of that year that the Cherokees had declared war on them. The original Fort Smith and its officers were put into place to help mediate the differences between the warring tribes.

Bad Tempered Buffalo and seven war chiefs were ferried across the river on April 9 by Fort Smith soldiers for a pow-wow with Lt. Martin Scott, the temporary commander of the fort. The friendly discussion turned sour rather quickly as the Osage leader demanded gunpowder and permission to camp and hunt along the boundaries of the soldiers’ fortress.

Scott refused the request and hurriedly escorted the warriors back across the river amid threats from Bad Tempered Buffalo. Shortly thereafter, the Osage party was observed building rafts and permanent structures on their side of the river.

As tensions grew between the two sides of the river, Scott commanded two six-pound cannons be wheeled out, aimed, and prepared for action against potential Osage aggression. Bad Tempered Buffalo and his warriors saw the loaded cannons and backed away from their combative position. Soon the Indian Chief ordered his party to take to the woods and out of range from the six-pound peacemakers.

This is just one of the stories members of the Mansfield cross country team experienced as they took a morning trip last Friday to the original site of Fort Smith. Perched near the probable lookout point from which Lt. Scott aimed his six-pound cannons, the team runners prepared for an early morning jog around the historic grounds.

With volleyball and cheer camp conflicting with the specialty trip, only a handful of the Mansfield cross country players got to enjoy the scenic venture. 

“It was a good trip,” said John Mackey, the MHS cross country coach. “Our older players wanted something new and this was a perfect opportunity to blend a bit of education in with our training schedule. Unfortunately, not everyone could work out the conflicts as we have several players involved in multiple activities this summer.”

Darby Jones, a senior on this year’s upcoming roster, was one that made special arrangements to make the trip. The 2020 River Valley All-Star participant switched work schedules from her job at Parrot Island Waterpark to join in the morning jog.

Tiger cross country runners stand near a replica cannon aimed across the Arkansas River at a location once occupied by Bad Tempered Buffalo of the Osage Indian Tribe

“Darby has taken on a more of the leadership role this summer, both by example and vocal input,” recognized Mackey. “She has been training hard and preparing well for another outstanding season.”

Jones has already produced a personal best this summer with a 5K race at Greenwood on July 3. Her chip time of 22:22.05 ranked her fourth in her age division. Through the first two weeks of practice, the 17-year-old has accumulated over 52 miles of distance running.

Fellow senior McKenzie Griffin, another Lady Tiger runner to make the trip, leads the summer squad with total mileage up through the first seven practices. The 2019 cross country player of the year has logged 62.75 miles so far.

“McKenzie is regaining her form after the pandemic season took her a step back,” commented the coach. “She is putting in the time for a successful senior season. She has been working on her own with an emphasis on speed and pace.”

Jadelynn Wood, a 2020 River Valley Best of Preps award winner, and Hope Rainwater, another senior, made the trip to Fort Smith as well. The two finished among Mansfield’s scoring five off last season’s state runner-up team.

Homeschool student Ashton Hinkle has returned for the senior boys’ team. So far this summer he leads the men in total mileage.

Newcomer, Holden Powers, joined the older runners on the early morning run around the Fort Smith campgrounds and Judge Isaac C. Parker’s Courthouse. The seventh-grader stayed within the pack for most of the workout only taking a mandated rest as instructed by his coach.

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