The Huskies cross country team put in one of its best performances in recent history running at the Apple Ridge Invitational held Saturday, Sept. 21, with the boys varsity taking fifth place and the girls finishing with fourth out of a big pool of teams. Junior Cody Alvarez set the pace for Othello and finished 14th-place with a finish of 17:31.4 on the three-mile course. Head coach JJ Martinez said the fact his squad put in such good effort and placed so high among the 30 teams there that day shows him they're really making progress. "To place fourth and fifth - we haven't done that in a while in cross country," he said. "This shows this team is different. They want to be in there trying to compete with the best and get better." The progress is easily measurable. Alvarez set a six-second improvement over his finish during the district tournament held on the same course last fall. A solid performance from the likes of Fernando Mendoza, who finished 22nd in 17:50.3, rounded out another competition that shows the Huskies are ready to make some moves this year, Martinez said. "They'll be right there for state competition," he said. "Overall, the boys varsity team all ran great. Just about every single one of them finished under 20 minutes so that was huge." He said the boys are pursuing a winning record as their first goal of the season and so far, he thinks the work they've done in practice and these first few performances at meets shows they're well on their way to reaching it. "We're right there competing with the teams in our league," Martinez said. "They want to have that winning record this year. They're just always going out and working hard." The girls had a strong showing and were once again led by sophomore standout Michelle Murillo, who finished 18th in 22:38.9 - a little slower than last year, but something Martinez and his coaches think they can address easily thanks to the increased internal competition within the team. "We have competitiveness that we lacked in the past," he said. "They're being competitive in practice and trying to outdo each other in practice. That's all you can ask for and that's what's going to help you get in the lead." Other top Othello finishers include sophomore Olivia Giles earning 29th in 23:12.4, Maria Larios finishing 38th in 24:22.8 and Ryan Gonzalez closing out at 36th in 18:21.8. This afternoon, the Huskies host Selah and West Valley in their only home match of the season then travel to Connell to race Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Martinez said their opponents for the home meet have been the strongest in the league in recent years and the team is looking forward to seeing how they match up at home along with finding out how well the team handles the steep hills at Connell. "If they want to get to the state tournament, these are the trails you want to be running on," he said.