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Sunday, October 2, 2022

Second Year Runner Packs 4-Sport Summer

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Pictured is eighth grader Trinity Triska

If you can throw it, shoot it, serve it, or chase it; she’s probably done it. In fact, depending on what day of the week it is she may be playing right now. That’s the jammed packed sports life of second-year cross country runner Trinity Triska.

Triska, who’s only an eighth-grader at Mansfield Middle School, is in the midst of a 4-sport summer. Of course, that’s not much different from any other summer the 13-year-old has experienced in the last few years. It’s just what she does.

“I’m used to doing so many sports for so long at such a young age,” Triska said following a night last week in which she just completed two different practices. “About the age of 10, I started getting serious about sports.”

This particular Tuesday night, Triska served and passed volleyballs for about an hour and a half in the high school gym for volleyball practice. Soon after, she went on a 4.5 mile run down by Mansfield City Lake at cross country practice.

“When I’m doing a sport, I stay pretty focused. I stay in the moment,” Triska explaining how she juggles the transition between multiple sports. “When it’s over, I plan ahead on what I gotta do next.”

This summer, Triska has mastered sport juggling quite well. Not only has she been preparing for the upcoming volleyball and cross country seasons, but she’s also rounded the bases of a busy travel softball schedule and pushed full court at school basketball practice.

“Trinity plays in a lot of travel softball tournaments on the weekends,” Mansfield cross country coach John Mackey said. “Through the week she’s pretty dedicated to giving her best to all three of her school teams. Her parents are very supportive in allowing her multiple opportunities.”

Cross country runners Aidan Fildes and Trinity Triska do some strength exercises as part of their warm-up routine before cross country practice

As far as long-distance racing is concerned, Mackey is thrilled his young star has the maturity to change gears between sports.

“As a seventh-grader, she was the regional cross country champion and top four in the conference finals,” Mackey reviewed. “I think she’s stronger right now and putting in better quality miles. Just the other day she stayed step for step with John (Branche) for the first two and a half miles when he did his six-mile run.”

John Branche, an eleventh grade Tiger runner, is one of the top returning senior high players off the Mansfield men’s team.

“Trinity is an all-around athlete,” said Branche, one of many Mansfield runners that train together at the city lake. “She continues to work harder in every sport, every day. She never slows down.”

Triska’s numbers were impressive last year through the cross country season. She never finished below sixth place at a long-distance race with the exception of the Chile Pepper Festival. That particular race, the nation’s second-largest cross country race, her finish was still in the top 18% among 632 runners from at least three different states.

A scatter-plot of some of Triska’s highlight races from last season include the following. Her 1.55-mile victory at the Tom Stuthard Top 25 Regional was timed at 10:59.10. Her third-place mark at the highly regarded Van Buren Classic for their 1.67-mile course was 11:40.45. And a mud-soaked 2.0-mile trail in Elkins at the 3A-1 West District finals was clocked at 14:44.30 for fourth place.

“I want to stay in the top five for all our meets this season,” Triska announced when asked about her goal for the upcoming cross country season. 

“I like when the older kids cheer you on,” the young talent continued as she expressed what keeps her motivated to reach her goal. “But, I can always hear my parents. It’s like I almost look for their voice. My parents are at most of the events. They motivate me to do better.”

Mansfield junior high runners Addie Bowman, Azlynn Stover, Aidan Fildes, Summer Frazier, and Trinity Triska take a water break

Triska is one of six eighth grade girls that started pre-season cross country practice in July for the Mansfield junior team. The others include Addie Bowman, Aidan Fildes, Summer Frazier, Azlynn Stover, and Laney Wood.

Mansfield’s first race of the 2020 season is set for September 12 at Fort Smith’s Ben Geren Park.

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