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Monday, May 20, 2024

MHS Sr. Runner Roundup – Megan Rose

Editor’s Note: The senior high cross country state championship is Friday, November 3. This is the final installment of a spotlight series recognizing the senior cross country athletes running for the Mansfield Tigers.

Scan recorded history. From 1942 you’ll find meaningful words by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that eloquently mirror the senior season of Mansfield cross country star Megan Rose.

“Now this is not the end,” famously spoke Churchill to the House of Commons. “It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Churchill’s spoken words at the time celebrated a much needed World War II military victory. It wasn’t the end of the war. Many more miles lay in store and there was much more work to be done. One day Britain and their allies would rest. Just not this day. New triumphs were still to come.

A soon to be released Mansfield yearbook photo aptly proclaims Megan Rose as the “most athletic female” from the MHS class of 2018. A plethora of medals unmistakably draped around the neck of the senior in the photograph is positive proof the claim fits.

By week’s end, arguably one of the most decorated 5k runners in Mansfield school history will be competing in her final high school cross country state championship. But to her, it will not be the end. It won’t even be the beginning of the end. It’s just the end of the beginning to what appears to be an even longer career in cross country at the next level.

Rose is on the radar of several college scouts to run next season after she finally graduates from Mansfield High School. By her admission two have had face to face visits, three contacted by phone, seven sought contact through email, and dozens more used traditional mail for correspondence.

“It makes me feel good to get recognition,” said a reverential Rose. “I have to remain humble about it. It’s really God using me. I want to give Him the glory. It’s His blessings that have given me opportunity. I pray before every race.”

“I can’t stop the end from coming,” confided the senior about the end of her high school days coming quickly. “I’ve had some good race times and not so good. I just try to make every moment count.”

Rose’s senior moments officially started back in July when the team meet three times weekly for summer fun runs. In reality, the self-motivated runner never stopped running once her junior year state track and field finals ended last May.

“Megan is the standard,” beamed John Mackey her cross country coach for the past three seasons and her track coach for the last five. “She never takes shortcuts. She puts in the time like champions are supposed to do. That’s why her career will continue beyond Friday’s state finals.”

Southeastern Oklahoma State, a Division II college in Durant Oklahoma, came calling just last week. Savage Storm Head Coach Ron Hair drove the 4 hours and 6 minutes from Durant, OK to Acorn, AR to see Rose run at the Tom Stuthard Top 25 Regional.

University of Ozarks, a NCAA Division III school in Clarksville, has also had its head coach witness Rose run in live action on two different occasions this season. Eagle Coach Jeremy Provence spoke with the Mansfield player at Magazine and again at the high school meet he hosted off the U. of O. campus.

Over the course of twelve scheduled races this season, interested personnel have had an opportunity to see Rose run and run well. As the Lady Tigers number one runner, Rose has finished first on three different occasions. She has also posted three second place ends, two thirds, a fifth, and a seventh. 

At the Chile Pepper Festival on the University of Arkansas home course, Rose finished in an abnormal 88th place. Understandably, that was against 582 other entries from multiple states. Little room to navigate pretty much painted the distance dynamo into the a preverbal corner.

“Seventh is the lowest place this season except for the Chile Pepper,” recalled Rose reflecting back on this year’s regular season. “I’ve set a personal record at every course except for District. Weather plays a big factor. I like it when it’s really cold.”

A scan of this season’s results affirmed Rose’s revelation about weather. On the first cool night of the season on October 10 at Magazine, the senior electrified the field with a career best 19:42.00 over the 5K race.

“It was a special run for sure,” marveled Mackey on his prize pupil’s record run. “She was just in a zone. We’d been talking about how much she had left in the tank after each race. It was a conscious decision to go out fast and stay at a high level. Megan’s in the best shape of her life. I’m so proud of what she’s been able to do.”

Rose admitted the friendly confines of the local Magazine Rattler Run tends to bring out the best in her.

“The guy (Coach Brandon Bryan) driving the lead 4-wheeler at Magazine jumped off to come congratulate me,” exclaimed the excited senior. “I’ve made friends with other runners over the years like Lauren Ryan of Magazine and Lennon Woods from my own team. We got really close last year.”

“Cross country is such a great atmosphere,” asserted the typically quietly yet confident competitor. “My friends, we help each other. I’m thankful for the emotional support that my friends and family give me.”

Many Mansfield teachers and former coaches have also come out to watch Rose run this year. Each in their own way wanting to catch a glimpse of the tiny talent who wants to be a teacher and coach when she finally unties her running shoes.

“It makes me feel good to have teachers come and watch,” explained Rose. “I want to be a cross country and track coach. I want to give back to a sport that’s been so good to me.”

From the looks of things, Megan is in no hurry to retire her running shoes. The state championships in Hot Springs on November 3 will be just another run in the illustrious career of the highly decorated senior. Call it the end of the beginning with a new chapter to follow.

Remember, Churchill once noted. “The bright gleam has caught the helmets of our soldiers, and warmed and cheered our hearts.”

On Friday, it’s possible a bright gleam may catch the bounce of Megan Rose’s prominent ponytail. May it warm and cheer our hearts.

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