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Molitor, Figueroa turn in top times at districts

While no one from the Madras High School cross country programs qualified for this weekend’s state meet, coach Donnie Alire said he was still pretty pleased with how his team did this season.

Following the Tri-Valley Conference championships on Wednesday at McIver Park in Estacada, Alire said despite much of his team racing out to quick starts, he would have liked to see them hit their pace and sustain it during the race.

“A lot of our runners were 30 seconds to a minute ahead of their mile pace, and that just means you’re going to get slower faster throughout the race,” he said. “It might not seem like much, but it makes a difference.”

by: DAVID BALL/PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP - Madras sophomore Maddie Molitor ran to a 12th-place finish at the Tri-Valley Conference cross country championships at McIver Park in Estacada.Madras’ top finisher on the boys side was freshman Carlos Figueroa. He finished 16th overall with a time of 18 minutes, 44.60 seconds, which was a personal best for him.

Figueroa, who was named an honorable mention seletion on the all-Tri-Valley Conference cross country team, led the Buff boys harriers to a fifth-place finish with 135 points, ahead of Gladstone.

Junior Brent Sullivan was the second Madras boy to finish, clocking in a time of 20:59.30 for 26th overall. He was followed by freshman Shea Yeahquo, who ran a 21:18.90 to place 27th.

The varsity team’s lone senior, Raymond Hill, placed 32nd with a time of 23:36.70. Freshman Dion Sloan rounded out the varsity race finishers for Madras with a personal-best time of 24:13.50 on the 5,000-meter course.

Alire said he’s excited about the youth the team has, both on the boys and girls sides, but he’s most pleased with the amount of effort and work everyone is putting in to get better.

“They all care about their times, and that’s one of the best feelings for a coach,” Alire said. “They have a hunger and a passion for running, and they want to get better. There’s nothing worse than seeing an athlete settle, but these kids don’t do that.”

For the girls, sophomore Maddie Molitor was the only entry in the varsity race at the conference meet, and she had an outstanding finish.

She ran a personal-best time of 22:39.96, which was good enough for 12th place overall. She was named a second-team all-Tri-Valley Conference cross country runner at the end of the race.

“Maddie came to me and said she could run distance, but wasn’t going to be that fast,” Alire said. “She ran around a 6-minute mile, which I think surprised her a little bit when she started. I think she can pick up next season where she left off this season.”

The Madras cross country program used to be one of the state’s best, and Alire was part of that when the Buffs won a string of state and league championships during the late 1980s and 90s. He said the team had close to 40 runners during those years, which is nowhere close to the numbers his teams have had recently.

“If you look at all sports, numbers are down,” Alire said. “Coaches are getting together to try to figure out why, and they are just left scratching their heads. I’m disappointed in our numbers.”

Alire said there’s promise for a bigger squad in the future, though. He said there is a crop of eighth graders coming up that performed well at the junior high level, and he’s hoping the attitude of his current athletes will rub off on some of their friends.

“Sometimes you can get a little spark, and it spreads,” Alire said. “Hopefully our runners can help spread that spark to their friends.”

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