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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Tiger Runners Begin Pre-Season XC Practice

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Photo: Mansfield freshmen Laney Wood, Trinity Triska, and Leland Powell circle the City Lake Park as part of their summer cross country pre-season training.

Moderate temperatures greeted members of the Mansfield cross country team last week as preparations for the upcoming season resumed after the mandatory AAA dead period.

The Arkansas Activities Association held its annual two-week dead period for interscholastic activities from June 27 through July 11. On the following Monday evening, Mansfield distance runners laced up their running shoes and began a series of team training sessions.

Mansfield senior McKenzie Griffin finds the City Lake Park a safe place to train for cross country as the area is regularly patrolled by city police

“It was good to get back together as a team after mostly individual training took place since school let out in May,” said Mansfield cross country and track coach John Mackey. “The motivated athletes had been through about six weeks of individual training. Now, we get together as a group and see where we are at as far as conditioning.”

Tiger and Lady Tiger runners invaded the Mansfield City Lake Park for evening aerobic runs that started on that Monday, July 12. Depending on skill level, the beginners up to the experienced seniors spent time together warming up, developing core strength, and running.

Joseph Carter of Mansfield prepares for the upcoming cross country season. Carter, an eighth-grader, was on the junior boy’s conference championship team in 2020

“We had everything from half-mile runs to six-mile endurance runs that first night,” explained Mackey. “You could tell right away who had been active during the time off.”

According to the coach, practice is open to any eligible player from seventh grade to twelfth grade for boys and girls. Newcomers along with veteran runners that have been unable to attend so far due to schedule conflicts are still welcome.

Aidan Fildes and Danielle Lowery race each other as they finish long-distance training as members of the Mansfield junior girls cross country team

The typical weekly schedule calls for nightly sessions each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 7:00 PM until about 8:30 PM at the City Lake. The team sessions will continue each week until professional development training for teachers begins the week before school starts. A regular school-time practice schedule will ensue shortly after that.

There are a few extra morning destination trips scheduled opposite the typical summer evening workouts to break up the monotony of the same old scenery. For example, one trip has the team taking a morning bus trip this Friday to the site of the first Fort Smith.

Lady Tiger Jadelynn Wood strides down a path during cross country summer practice. Wood was selected as a member of the River Valley Best of Preps cross country team last season

The historical site originally established on December 25, 1817, is located between Judge Isaac C. Parker’s courthouse and the Arkansas River. There is a 1.25-mile walking/jogging trail that runs along the river’s edge and circumvents the original fort grounds.

“The visitor’s center describes this area as an exploration into living life on the edge of the frontier and Indian Territory,” remarked Mackey who also serves as a teacher at the high school. “I think this will give our kids a chance to experience real history as we bond together doing something we love.”

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