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MacDuffee and Wapsheli could qualify for state at today's Tri-Valley district meet

PMG FILE PHOTO - Madras junior Hannah MacDuffee is the team's best bet to make it to the 4A State Championships in Eugene, along with fellow junior Isaiah Wapsheli. The Buffs have too few runners to support a full boys or girls team.In the final tune-up race before the all-important Tri-Valley Championships this week, the Madras cross country team put together another set of impressive times. The teams raced last Thursday in the Gold Rush Run hosted by Grant Union High School and held at the 7th Street Complex in John Day.

Hannah MacDuffee and Isaiah Wapsheli continued to stand out as they have all season, with MacDuffee placing second in the girls race and Wapsheli setting a new personal record in the boys heat. In doing so, both Madras juniors boast the second-fastest tie in the Tri-Valley Conference.

Wapsheli beat his old record by 18 seconds, posting a time of 18:08.2 and inching ever closer to a sub-18 minute time. That mark is the second-fastest in the TVC this season, and Wapsheli is now one of only three Tri-Valley runners to finish two separate races with sub-18:30 times. Only Molalla's Riley Reynolds and Corbett's Colby Cook join Wapsheli in that feat.

Notably, the only Tri-Valley runner to hit that mark so far is Lliam Baird of Estacada. Baird posted a 5K time of 17:32.7 at The Harrier Classic in Albany — a full minute faster than any of his other times this season. Wapsheli has been the more consistent runner on the year, though, and has improved his time in each race this year.

All of that bodes well for Wapsheli to finish in the top 5 at next week's Tri-Valley Championships in Estacada. If all goes to plan, he will have some company on the drive to Eugene on Nov. 6.

Over in the girls heat in John Day, Hannah MacDuffee stayed hot but fell behind current TVC leader Heather Shaver of Estacada in the standings. The Madras junior posted a time of 20:59.0, just the fourth sub-21 minute time across the entire league this season. MacDuffee and Shaver have both done it twice, with the Estacada junior running a 20:37.0 at the Logger Invite last week. That time is just two seconds faster than MacDuffee's personal best time, set in Heppner earlier this month.

In two races against each other this season, MacDuffee was faster at the Bridgette Nelson Memorial race in The Dalles, while Shaver won the Estacada Invite in her own backyard. With the district championships also taking place in Estacada, Shaver might have the advantage. Still, MacDuffee's season average time of 21:51.4 is more than 45 seconds better than her next fastest competitor. Whether or not she wins at districts, MacDuffee is a safe bet to make it to state.

The other Madras cross country runners face longer odds at moving on from districts, but the younger members of the team continued to show improvement in John Day. Most notably, sophomore Kate Siekkinen set a personal record time of 25:16.3, while freshman Kurtis Tanewasha recorded his third sub-20 minute time of the season.

The Tri-Valley Conference Championships take place at Estacada High School this afternoon, Oct. 27, with varsity races beginning at 3 p.m. and JV races coming thereafter. Madras is the only school in the league that does not have enough runners to field a full team, so for a White Buffalo athlete to make it to the 4A State Championships in Eugene, they will need to finish in the top five in Estacada today.

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