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The Madras junior is one of a few White Buffalos who could end up qualifying for state

PMG PHOTO: LON AUSTIN - Hannah MacDuffee is one of a handful of Madras runners who could qualify for state.For the fourth time this season, Madras cross country runner Hannah MacDuffee finished second, further cementing her place as a rising star in the sport.

With a time of 20 minutes and 39 seconds at last week's 5K event in Heppner, the MHS junior set not only a new personal record but also a new season-best among all Tri-Valley girls.

On the boys' side, fellow junior Isaiah Wapsheli was fastest for the Buffs, finishing in 27th place with a personal best time of 18:34.4. That mark is the eighth-fastest time among all TVC boys so far this season.

Back to the girls' race, MacDuffee was not the only one to log a solid time. Sophomore Talise Wapsheli finished 30th at the Mustang Invite in Heppner, running the 5K course in 24:23.2. Wapsheli will continue looking to get back under the 24-minute mark, which she did last season at the 4A State Cross Country Championships. That said, her Heppner time was actually faster than what she ran in the TVC championship meet that sent her to state. As it stands, she has the league's 11th-fastest time among girls.

Rounding out the girls' half of the squad was sophomore Kate Siekkinen, who finished 30th out of 57 racers with a 25:56.2. Siekkinen was five seconds faster last week in Bend's Oxford Classic; however, she continues to make strides in her first season running for the Buffs. Siekkinen currently sits at 16th on the Tri-Valley leaderboard.

For the boys, joining Isaiah Wapsheli was freshman Kurtis Tanewasha, who ran a personal best time of 19:35.1 to finish 36th at the Mustang Invite, beating his old PR by just over a second. Tanewasha has improved his 5K time in each of the past four races, which is a very encouraging sign for what his career has in store.

Absent from Thursday's race in Heppner was MHS freshman James Napyer, who set a personal record of 19:52.7 last week in Bend.

As the season starts to wind down, it is worth taking a look at how Madras stacks up on the league-wide level.

Because Madras does not have enough athletes to field a full girls or boys team of five student-athletes, the Buff's co-ed team will not be able to qualify for the state championships as a squad.

However, per OSAA rules, any individuals runners that finish in the top five at their district finals will qualify for the state championships. That is how Talise Wapsheli made it to Eugene last year.

With the Buffs' runners showing improvement week in and week out, it would not be surprising to see at least one Madras athlete make it to the state finals.

Madras races again on Wednesday evening as they run in the Estacada Invite at McIver Park at 4:30 p.m.


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