Pair of Madras juniors could qualify as individuals since Buffs don't have full teams

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Madras junior Isaiah Wapsheli set a new personal record at the Estacada Invite, finishing in 18:26.8 to place sixth out of 53 runners in the 5K event.A few weeks ago, Isaiah Wapsheli said that he wanted to make it to the state championships this season. Last week, the Madras junior took a huge step toward reaching that goal, setting a new personal record and notching the Tri-Valley's fourth-fastest time at the Estacada Invite.

Wapsheli finished the 5K race in 18 minutes, 26.8 seconds, finishing sixth out of 53 runners in the boys race. That mark was more than 15 seconds better than his previous PR of 18:43.4 — which Wapsheli set in the previous race in Heppner. The junior has improved his time in each of the five full races he has competed in this season, and if he keeps up this pace, his goal of going to state could come true.

While MHS does not have enough runners to support a full boys team, Wapsheli can still qualify individually with a top-five finish at the Tri-Valley Conference Championships on Wednesday, Oct. 27. He had been in third place in the TVC leaderboard before Corbett's Colby Cook ran an 18:25.9 at the Lewis & Clark Invitational over the weekend. Still, Wapsheli proved that he can absolutely compete with the league's best.

Behind Wapsheli on the boys' side was Kurtis Tanewasha, who turned in a time of 20:17.3 to place 21st in the Estacada Invite. It was a bit of a step back for the freshman, who was under 20 minutes in each of the past two races. Hopefully, the regression is just a small speedbump in what has been an otherwise promising first season for Tanewasha.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee finished third at the Estacada Invite and still holds the fastest 5K time of the season among all Tri-Valley girls.Hannah MacDuffee once again led the Madras girls, finishing third in Estacada with a time of 21:13.9. While not quite at the level of her PR-setting run in Heppner the week before, this was the second-fastest race of the junior's career at MHS. Perhaps even more assuring for MacDuffee's chances at qualifying for state as an individual, each of her past three times would be good enough for at least second place in the TVC. As it stands, her 20:39.0 finish at the Mustang Invite is still the fastest time of any Tri-Valley girl this season.

Following MacDuffee for Madras were Talise Wapsheli, Kate Siekkinen and Kahmussa Green. Wapsheli has yet to regain the form she had at the Oxford Invite in Bend, but that finish from Oct. 2 still stands as the 12th-best in the league. That puts Wapsheli in shouting distance of an individual qualifier spot. The sophomore finished in 24:53.3 to place 14th out of 37 runners in Estacada. Siekkinen came in 22nd thanks to her time of 26:12.4, and Green took 29th after setting a personal record time of 28:47.2.

Madras has one more race to run before the Tri-Valley championships. The White Buffalos head out to John Day on Thursday, Oct. 21, for the Gold Rush Run being hosted by Grant Union High School. Varsity races are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m. at the 7th Street Complex.

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