The Huskies cross country team put in a solid effort during the Moses Lake Invitational held Saturday, Sept. 14, with the boys varsity squad finishing in eighth place of 11 teams while the girls had to settle for fifth place. Top Othello finishers include juniors Cody Alvarez and Fernando Mendoza placing 25th and 26th respectively while sophomore girls Michelle Murillo and Olivia Giles put in strong debuts finishing at 19th and 28th. Othello head coach JJ Martinez said hard work in practice paid off and plenty of athletes finished under the 20-minute mark of the 5000m course. "The kids ran well and almost all of them ran under 20 minutes, which is a good start," he said. Alvarez set the pace for the Huskies with a finish of 18:47.7 while Mendoza was only a step behind him with a finish of 18:49.3. On the girls side, first-year runner Giles finished in 25:13.9 and Murillo led the Huskies with a finish of 23:35.1. Martinez said the kids did well, but they're hungry to make even more improvements as the season progresses. "We're working on PR'ing every week," he said. Martinez liked what he saw from Murillo, who has continued to set the pace for the girls team since emerging early last season. She has some big goals this year and he said she's well on her way to reaching them. "Michelle wants to be at the state tournament, so she's going to be practicing hard," he said. The Huskies couldn't bring the whole varsity crew with them this time, but Martinez said plenty of junior varsity runners helped pick up the slack. "They did great," he said. "I was really impressed by how they did, especially some of those kids in their first year coming out." A handful of those JV athletes put in performances a little faster than their varsity peers and Martinez said he's considering making some changes in the makeup of the team depending on how their next few outings go. The team still has more than 70 members, including runners from McFarland Middle School, and received some help with the addition of new assistant coach Ashley Garza the week before their first meet. Martinez expects the team to continue to make gains, especially now that they can learn from a strong runner like her. "Ashley's bringing great experience in with her," he said, adding that teaming up with assistant coach Rudy Ochoa should prove to be a good combination. "That's going to be a huge asset to these kids as they start to get better and start to get to the next level." Up next for the Huskies is a trip to the Apple Ridge Invitational in Cowiche set to begin Saturday, Sept. 21. The site also serves as the location for the CWAC district tournament so Martinez said he expects the team to take it very seriously in preparation for what's hoped to be a strong postseason push.