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Mission runners conquer Eureka course

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EUREKA – It seems the upstart Mission cross country team likes a challenge.

Friday at the Eureka Invitational, in only their second meet as a team, the Mission harriers faced a more difficult course than the flat and smooth Canal Bank Run to open the season the week before, but despite having about a half mile sustained climb a little before the midway point and having to run on sand and loose gravel, most of the Bulldogs’ and Lady Bulldogs’ times not only dropped, but were in a freefall.

For the second week in a row, Paden Alexander and Ashley Courville were the top Mission runners. Alexander finished third with a time of 18:17 to help the Bulldogs finished third with 83 points, just three more than the second-place Plains. Courville, who remembered to bring her socks this week, finished eighth with a time of 21:25. The Lady Bulldogs didn’t have enough runners to qualify for a team score.

Alexander’s time was just three seconds slower than his record-setting time at Ronan.

“Paden has broken all my expectations. I look forward to see how he progresses,” Mission coach Patrick Murphy said. “He has a lot of potential as he develops.”

Battling a cold all week, Brian Schock still finished ninth with a time of 18:59. The next three Bulldogs to cross the line saw the biggest improvement for Mission. Xavier Streets finished in 18th, running the three-mile course in 20:35, about a seven-minute drop off from the canal run, where he went out of the gate too quick and had to walk some of the course.

“Xavier had a major breakthrough race,” Murphy said. “I don’t know how he did it.

Karl Daniels finished 26th and Brandon Bontrager came in right behind him to round out the Bulldogs’ top five. Daniels finished in 24:06, more than three and half minutes quicker than last week and Bontrager finished in 26:30, a 39-second improvement. 

Even with running with a blister after forgetting her socks the past week, Courville shaved 15 seconds off her to break her own school record. Courville was the third quickest Class B girl at the meet, finishing just three seconds behind Plains’ Felicia Earhart. Thompson Falls’ Mariah Naegeli was the quickest Class B runner finishing in fifth with a time of 20:44.

Rose Bear Don’t Walk just finished outside the top 10, coming in 11th with a time of 23:43, a minute quicker than the past week. Bear Don’t Walk finished right behind Eureka’s Bailey Malecha, who finished 16th in the state last year.

LaGlen Mitchell came in 14th with a time of 25:13, a 25-second improvement from Ronan, and Robyn Mitchell crossed the line in 16th with a time of 25:44.

Murphy said his team continues to exceed his expectations and their improving times in Eureka doesn’t tell the whole story.

“With the added element of the tougher course, their times might not even reflect on how much they improved,” Murphy said.

The Mission cross country team will compete at the Mountain West Classic in Missoula Saturday.

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