Posted Date: 07/18/2021
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.”