Posted Date: 11/17/2020
Seven weeks ago a watch list was created to follow cross country’s top small school runners through the 2020 season. Weekly updates went out within the greater River Valley area until a final list identifying the Top 20 women and Top 20 men was established. Once completed, the generated list served as an invitation for award winning long distance runners to migrate to Mansfield for the running of the Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star Meet on November 14.
“A small but intimate event” was the description meet director John Mackey of Mansfield gave the high caliber conclusion to the 2020 cross country season.
“This race was a very small but powerful affair with some of the most talented small school runners this area has to offer,” explained Mackey. “Mansfield did it’s best to provide the extra amenities to make this year’s All-Stars feel special.”
Those amenities the Tiger’s head coach referred to came by way of the generosity of 1978 Mansfield alumnus Roger Thompson. Thompson, an agency manager out of Scott County for Farm Bureau Insurance, personally shouldered all of the costs of the awards for this event. In fact, this was the second consecutive season Thompson had been the exclusive sponsor of the All-Star race.
“Roger Thompson has been really good to Mansfield since he graduated,” stated Mackey. “He has always taken an interest in the kids of our community. He has shown that through his service on the school board, refereeing basketball games, and offering financial support to many of our programs.”
As far as the competition went, the All-Star race lived up to its billing. The competition provided fast and furious fun racing around the perimeter of the Mansfield High School campus.
Pottsville junior Maggie Gregory won the women’s 5K in a time of 20:44.25. Mena product Logan Meyers won the men’s title at a speedy 17:35.32 over the same distance.
Host Mansfield only had one participant compete in the morning proceedings. Junior Darby Jones qualified as the 17th best runner invited from a pool formulated from 27 different schools through classes 1A through 4A. Jones moved up two spots in the actual rankings when race results were tabulated.
The Lady Tigers had at least two other runners from their class 2A State Runner-up team primed for the All-Star festivities. All-State junior Faith Rainwater and All-District sophomore Jadelynn Wood received invites but were unable to attend.
Rainwater, who qualified among the top tier All-Stars, ran a qualifying time of 22:55.30 at the state finals. That 8th place state time positioned her as the 12th ranked runner on the final All-Star list.
Wood, a 12th place medalist at the class 2A state championships, was a provisional qualifier to the FBRV All-Star meet. Her personal best time of 23:53.71 produced at the state meet ranked her Top 24 in the All-Star ratings. As other All-Stars declined the invite due to obligations such as the Arkansas vs. Oklahoma All-Stars, Wood moved into the race day Top 20 roster.
Despite not having two of their top three runners in the hometown event, Mansfield volunteers continued with the proceedings anyway. Former MHS graduate and current Southeastern Oklahoma State University cross country star Megan Rose was one of the many volunteers to serve.
Rose, giving back to the school that helped her earn multi-level awards while in high school, drove the lead 4-wheeler and then passed out the championship awards.
FBRV race results showed the following Top 10 finishers in the women’s division. (1) Maggie Gregory of Pottsville, (2) Maria Grano of Waldron, (3) Alexis Franklin of Booneville, (4) Lyric Nichols of Clarksville, (5) Paxtin Watts of Hector, (6) Carley Nantze of Dover, (7) Ryleigh Anschutz of Waldron, (8) Piper Koster of Dover, (9) Karsyn Moudy of Pottsville, and (10) McKenzi Stidman.
FBRV race results showed the following Top 10 finishers in the men’s division. (1) Logan Myers of Mena, (2) Baltazar Garcia of Dardanelle, (3) Daniel Sanderson of Clarksville, (4) AJ Post of Ozark, (5) Max Linares of Subiaco, (6) Anthony Gehrig of Subiaco, (7) Skylar Wrinkle of Dardanelle, (8) Ian Moore of Dardanelle, (9) Issac Tedder of Acorn, and (10) Joshua Bowman of Subiaco.
All participants in the Farm Bureau River Valley All-Star festival were awarded commemorative medals and a complementary uniform top. Before their race, all runners were introduced from socially distanced pods for photo opportunities.
After the races, the Top 10 women and Top 10 men were awarded additional race medals. Following the awards presentation, all players, coaches, and volunteer staff were served a catered boxed lunch that included chicken wraps, chips, and a cookie.
Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager Roger Thompson (right) donates a check to Mansfield Athletic Director John Mackey to help offset the cost of hosting the FBRV ll-Star Cross Country Meet.