Megan Rose stands in front of her family members whose supporting her at the Chile Pepper Festival in Fayetteville.
Jeff Rose has a ongoing joke with his wife and daughter. At some point before his daughter graduates, the three will race a 200m dash.
Mr. Rose, a two-sport star at Mansfield in the early 1990’s, is married to Heidi. Heidi Woolbright as she was known back then when the two graduated Mansfield in 1991 was a record setting track athlete. Their daughter is Tiger cross country ace Megan Rose.
The smart money is the trio will never actually line up for that mythical matchup. However, if the race was to see who might be the first in the line to view one of Megan’s cross country races; it would hands down be daddy Rose.
“Jeff’s a very supportive father,” said John Mackey who once coached the older Rose and is now currently his daughter’s coach. “Since Megan first started, Jeff has always made it a point to try and make every meet. There has been very few times he has not been there to support her.”
Just this past Saturday, the elder Rose arrived early at the Fayetteville Chile Pepper race. He scouted out a viewing point just below the finish line that offered him and his family several takes of the ongoing race.
“Coach, we got a spot on the other side,” remembered Mackey hearing Jeff’s conversation on Saturday morning. “He said something to the effect; I don’t know if we can make the mile mark and back but this is a pretty good spot to give her a holler more than once.”
The fact is Jeff, Heidi, the grandparents, an aunt, an uncle, cousins and more all made the trip to the second largest cross country race in the nation. Although there were over 6,000 runners in participation that day through a nine race schedule, it was really only one runner the Rose brigade came to see.
“My immediate family always love coming to the meets especially since I’m an only child as well as a senior,” exclaimed Megan when asked about her faithful following. “My dad doesn’t want to miss out on anything no matter it being a win or a loss. The Chile Pepper is always a big and fun experience. To share that with my family made it an even bigger thrill.”
Daughter Rose indeed ran that day at the Chile Pepper Festival. Along the fields of the University of Arkansas Agricultural Park, she competed in the high school open division with 582 runners.
Megan came in 88th place. To put it into perspective, that’s nearly 500 athletes from a multitude of states that the Lady Tiger ran 3.1 miles faster than. Although it wasn’t her best time (23:08.5) of the season. It was her best time on this particular collegiate course. And, it was in front of family.
Megan was the lone entry for the Mansfield women’s team. With the stakes so high and the standards so deep, that’s typical of the Tigers to only enter a few.
However, the Mansfield men’s team sent two Tigers to the enormous running event. Senior Devon Pyles and exchange student Joris Felius both competed in the weekend festival.
“This was Devon’s second appearance at the Chile Pepper,” stated Mackey. “We wanted Joris to run as well to give him another experience to tell when he gets back home to the Netherlands.”
The Tiger men lined up against 887 other racers for the 5K stampede. Surviving the 500 meter start before the first 90 degree turn was an achievement in itself. Both Mansfield runners avoided collisions to complete the course in the 20 minute range. Pyles (20:27.8) and Felius (20:47.2) both landed within the top 47% of the total runners to finish.
“It was good to give these kids an opportunity,” explained the coach. “It was especially good to have a large following come watch. The Rose family may have come to support Megan, but they treat all our kids like their own.”