Pictured is Southeastern Oklahoma State University cross country runners, Megan Rose and Madelynn Coffey.
Two Savage Storms blew into the Mansfield area early last week. No, it wasn’t the expected rain being pushed from Hurricane Hanna out of Texas. It was a pair of college cross country runners from Southeastern Oklahoma State University, nicknamed the Savage Storm.
Local legend Megan Rose of Mansfield and her teammate Madelynn Coffey of Durant, Oklahoma happened by Mansfield High School’s cross country practice. The two college juniors were preparing for their own running regiment as they crossed paths with the Tigers.
With a nudge from MHS track coach John Mackey, the pair led the Tiger cross country team in warmups for the afternoon.
“These are two high caliber athletes that have moved to the next level,” Mackey said. “Our players are well aware of the work Megan has done to get to the college ranks. To have her and Maddie stop by was a motivating treat for us.”
The college players were put through the screening dialogues, temperature checks, and social distance mandates just like the Mansfield team members. Afterwhich, the two took the Tiger players through a modified version of the Savage Storm warmup.
“It was fun to lead practice again,” Rose, a four-time individual conference champion while at Mansfield, confessed. “Except, I wasn’t really the leader. It was easy to see how the team dynamics had changed and who the new leaders were.”
According to Rose, her college teammate came along as the two were doing some summer training sessions together.
“Maddie came up as a little road trip so we could train together,” Rose explained. “It’s nice doing everyday workouts with someone else. Plus, it’s always fun showing another runner what real hills look like.”
Coffey, who enrolled at Southeastern in the same recruiting class as Rose, has worked at the Texas Heat Cross Country Camp in the past. This summer, the event was canceled due to the nationwide virus crisis. That left the Oklahoma native free to travel to Mansfield for a few days.
“It was good to get out and enjoy some Arkansas weather,” Coffey admitted. “I was happy to do the warmups with the Tigers as Megan and I prepared for our own workout.”
The Savage Storm runners were set to go on a 6 mile run the Monday they interacted with the high school team. The college players were scheduled to run around 50 miles for the week. Their current workload calls for daily six-mile runs with a long run of 12 miles on Sundays.
In comparison, the upper-level runners (L3) for MHS are scheduled for 32 miles per week. The mid-levels (L2) are putting in about 23 miles per week. And the lower tier (L1) and beginners (LB) are around 13.
Last week, the top 5 Lady Tigers by mileage for the seven-day stretch were Katlynn Moore, McKenzie Griffin, Cassidy Carlton, Faith Rainwater, and Darby Jones. Moore hit 32 miles last week while Jones went 34.9 the week before that. For the month of July, Jones leads the overall mileage of any Tiger at 109.5. Rainwater is close behind at 108.5 for that same four week period.
As a unit last week, Mansfield cross country runners from both the junior and senior high teams produced 339.3 miles. Since pre-season team sessions resumed on July 6, the group has topped the one thousand mile mark. Their total collective distance as of Thursday, July 30 was 1,039 miles.
“We try to set a weekly goal,” Mackey pointed out. “For three weeks in a row, we’ve surpassed that newly set threshold. Having Megan and Maddie show up to practice the other day gave us extra incentive to reach another new high.”
Trinity Triska off the junior girls’ team continued to lead the younger division in total miles for both the week and the monthly total. John Branche reached the top measure for the senior boys in both categories as well.
Contributors of late have been Mansfield’s newest runners. Joseph Carter, a seventh-grader, recently joined the junior boys’ group with fellow seventh-grader Jonah Martin. Summer Frazier, an eighth-grader, bolstered the junior girl’s team mid-July.
Also shuffling into the cross country mix have been six players off the Mansfield volleyball team and one football athlete. Frazier, Triska, and Carlton do both cross country and volleyball this season as do Addie Bowman, Azlynn Stover, and Laney Wood. Branche rejoined football this season while maintaining his cross country status. As Mansfield looks to compete this fall season, Rose and her teammate are still waiting for an announcement about their season.
“My expectations for this season are to hopefully have a season,” the former Lady Tiger messaged. “I think mentally this is the strongest summer I’ve ever practiced. It can be pretty discouraging practicing alone. I’ve finally gotten patient with the mileage. Having the right mindset helps the workout go faster. That’s why I’m glad y’all are practicing as a team even with social distancing.”
Coffey is excited about the upcoming cross country season despite the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the start to college athletics this Fall. “I’m excited about our cross country team,” Coffey relayed by message. “We will have a bigger team than usual. We have 16 runners when we usually have 12. I think we will be ready to compete at our conference when it gets here.”
As far as witnessing Mansfield runners for the first time, the Durant native added. “I think it’s neat how Mansfield practices together despite being a small team. I’m from a bigger school. I loved the enthusiasm of the Mansfield team.”