The miles are starting to add up for the Mansfield cross country team as the second and third weeks of organized team activities moves along.
Since the first full week of July, Mansfield runners have gathered at the local City Lake Park for nightly runs. Producing at various levels, the collection of distance enthusiasts have turned up the heat on their fitness.
Among the many are a group of sophomore girls that have kept a close check on their total miles each week. McKenzie Griffin, Harleigh Mars, Faith Rainwater, and Hope Rainwater have lead the pack with the highest mileage count so far.
“This sophomore group is very competitive,” stated Mansfield mentor John Mackey. “They are constantly doing the math to keep up with their mileage each week.”
According to the coach, this core group targets 25 miles per week per player as a minimum. They look to get to 32 miles per week by the first of August.
“Our younger players were a big part of our state team last season,” noted the coach. “They moved up after their junior high season to make a real impact at district and state.”
That talent pool of underclassmen also bodes well for the men’s team. As the coach explained, most of the players that will run for the senior men’s squad will be ninth and tenth graders.
“We look to be a competitive senior boys team if we move up the three freshmen,” acknowledged Mackey. “Right now until school starts and we can recruit more runners, our men’s lineup will include three freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior.”
Ethan Chapman, one of the sophomores, has been recognized by his coach as one of the players coming into summer sessions in the best shape. It comes as know surprise as he was labeled last season’s male cross country player of the year for the TIgers.
Chapman has been pushed this summer by fellow sophomore John Branche and freshman Tommy Phang. Ashton Hinkle and Logan Yoss, both freshmen, along with Renden Emery, a junior, complete the MHS men’s team at this time.
Shelby Cole, Darby Jones, Delilah McKusker, and Lennon Woods have been working through injury and illness to bolster the senior girls squad.
The junior girls team have had three freshmen help lead their unit with some of the most miles this summer. Lita Hecox, Magean Newman, and Jadelynn Wood represent that trio.
Eighth graders Eden Mounts and Raine Hecox have juggled basketball and football practices respectively with cross country training to shore up the junior high squad.
Seventh graders Meghan Emery, Aidan Fildes and Trinity Triska have attended the most days out of the newcomer list. Azlynn Nelson, Aaliyah Summers, Addie Bowman, and Lanny Wood have begun their rookie campaigns as well.
Freshmen Cassidy Carlton and Alyssa James have also made their presence know at cross country workouts between volleyball and cheer practices.
At least six other athletes that are strictly preparing for either track or volleyball seasons have also logged miles with the cross country runners.