Posted Date: 11/14/2017
The state championships in Hot Springs on November 3 was the actual end the 2017 Mansfield Cross Country season. However, six Mansfield Tigers extended their season by a week when they accepted an invitation to run at the River Valley All-Star Meet.
Already in were Megan Rose and Lennon Woods of the Lady Tiger senior girls team. Devon Pyles and Joris Felius from the men’s squad also had early notification that they would be running. Two additions came just days before the November 11 event. Seniors Natalie Brewer and Corrina Wesley also accepted their call to participate giving Mansfield six All-Stars.
“That’s the largest group of athletes that we have had qualify for the All-Stars,” announced John Mackey, the Mansfield head cross country coach. “It was really an exciting cap to a really good season. The kids deserved the recognition.”
Mansfield was a bit frustrated after not performing completely at their peak at the state finals. Although collectively the group finished in the top ten, they expected more.
Unseasonably warm temperatures on the day of state competition seemed to hold back the long distances runners. Although the record indicated this season’s top Tigers did perform better than they ever had at the state level, they wanted a more magical finish.
Well, their wish eventually came true. It was just a week later and several degrees cooler.
Mansfield’s pick six ran great at Saturday’s All-Star feature. In fact, five of the six runners set personal records while the one that didn’t PR won the entire thing.
“It was in the 80 degree range at state,” reported Mackey. “That’s not ideal for someone running over 3 miles. But, Saturday the temperature was around 40 degrees when we arrived. It was cold, but it felt good to the running man.”
Mansfield’s women tore up the Magazine Rattler home course at the 10 AM start. Senior Megan Rose logged her second best time ever around the 5K course. She won the race in 19:59.
Lady Tiger teammates Lennon Woods, Natalie Brewer, and Corrina Wesley all closed in career best times. Respectively they came across in 22:36 for fifth place, 24:14 for ninth, and 24:25 for tenth.
Thirty minutes later the men took off. Joris Felius got out fast and stayed in contention throughout. The Netherlands native finished at a career best 18:00 for fourth place.
Tiger senior Devon Pyles was close behind. The three time River Valley All-Star and top scoring Tiger male at state went 18:24 for sixth place. Like his 5K running mates, it too was a career best.
“It was such a fun, relaxing day,” said the Tiger coach. “It was really a tremendous day for our athletes. They got a second chance to go out on top.”
It was especially sweet for Rose who has been Mansfield’s marquee player for a couple of season’s now. The college recruit fell two places shy of All-State status at the 3A Championships. Plus, she had never beaten 4A wunderkind Kennedy Timmerman of Ozark.
The 2017 RV All-Star race afforded her a final chance to do at least the latter. Mission accomplished as Rose passed the former state champ in the final half mile to take the win.
How did it feel to beat Timmerman?
“It felt great!” said an excited Rose after the race. But as her humble nature didn’t allow much more than a smile, she was quick to complement the friendly foe while not glowing too much about her own accomplishment.
“You ran a great race,” exclaimed Rose to Timmerman in an overheard conversation. “You did great. Congratulations.”
Rose also spoke similar words to each and every Tiger teammate as they too crossed the finish line in their own terrific times.
“They all ran great today,” confessed Mackey. “Lennon ran with emotion. She knew this was the last time with her senior teammates. Natalie and Corrina, I’m so proud they had this chance. Joe and Devon have been terrific all season. And, Megan, you can’t say enough good things about her.”
Mansfield sends six to the Magazine hosted River Valley All-Star XC meet on November 11. Pictured are sophomore Lennon Woods, seniors Megan Rose, Natalie Brewer, Corrina Wesley, Devon Pyles, and junior Joris Felius.