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Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee has finished 2nd in the first two cross country races of the season

ANDY DIECKHOFF/MADRAS PIONEER - Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee runs through the flooded pasture at Breese Ranch in Prineville.Though the season is barely a week old, Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee has wasted no time in positioning herself as a cross country runner to watch this fall. Following second-place finishes at both the Culver 2-Mile Time Trial and the Jere Breese Memorial Ranch Stampede, MacDuffee looks like she could make a mark for the Buffs' program at the 4A level.

At the Breese Memorial 5K race in Prineville over the weekend, MacDuffee finished in 24 minutes and 25 seconds, trailing only Morgan Shaw of 5A Ridgeview. Earlier in the week in Culver, her two-mile time of 13:30 was also good for second place. Kate Hagerty of Redmond, who did not race at Breese Ranch, had the only faster time (13:22) at the Culver 2-Mile Trial.

The Prineville race is notable for many reasons, such as its picturesque views and its placement on a ranch owned by a sitting state representative (Vikki Breese Iversen). However, what truly makes the course unique comes at the quarter-mile mark, where runners must trek through an area where the irrigation creek floods the pasture.

For some, the water might seem like an unwelcome addition to the race, but not for MacDuffee.

"I think it's refreshing," she said with a laugh after finishing the Saturday race. In her opinion, the loose dirt and the rocky climb into the hills was the toughest part of the course.

"It's a good course overall," she added.

For many of the athletes from Madras High, these were the first races of their high school careers. Out of the six runners on the co-ed team, three are freshmen.

During the Culver time trials, freshman James Napyer was the Buffs' top male finisher overall, posting a time of 12:23 to place sixth out of 16 total runners on the boys' side. Napyer was followed freshman Kurtis Tanewasha (13:03) and junior Isaiah Wapsheli (13:19). Before Napyer took over, it was Wapsheli who was leading the pack for the Buffs through the first mile. However, a stumble in the rocky Culver terrain cost him valuable time at the beginning of the second mile.

"It felt good out there," said Wapsheli, who was in notably good spirits while tending to a pair of skinned knees. "Especially when I was burning guys before I fell."

Prineville was a smoother race for Wapsheli, as the junior finished ninth out 37 runners in the boys' heat. His time of 22:38 is still well off his personal record, though, so expect to see him continuing his upward climb in the leaderboards. Napyer (23:18) and Tanewasha (23:24) finished back-to-back, placing 13th and 14th in the boys' race.

For the Madras girls, following MacDuffee at the Culver event were sophomore Talise Wapsheli, who finished sixth with a time of 16:00, and freshman Kahmussa Green, who took 11th place after finishing in 19:32. Green did not race in Prineville, but Wapsheli finished 11th out of 17 racers in the girls' heat at Breese Ranch, running the course in 30:17.

After the time trials, new Madras coach Jess Swagger was pleased with her team's effort and attitude, both before and after the event. She also noted that they were excited for the ranch race and all its obstacles.

"I want them to use this as a starting point," said Swagger, noting that the team will work on setting and achieving personal goals this year. "I'm looking forward to seeing how their individual times improve. We'll continue building our miles."

"But really," she added, "I'm happy if they have fun."

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