With the two final league meets of the season approaching, head coach of the Huskies cross country team, JJ Martinez, decided to give some of his top kids a bit of a breather last weekend. Some varsity runners rested during the Pasco Invitational held Saturday, Oct. 5, but the ones who stepped up helped the girls team reach a seventh-place finish while the boys finished eighth. One of the kids who stepped up was senior Tanner Sparks, who Martinez said has been putting in a lot of hard work prior to his varsity debut at Pasco. He wasn't leading the pack with his finishing time of 23:28, but the example he set is something Martinez hopes would motivate Sparks' teammates to push themselves, also. "Tanner's always been a hard worker and never complains about anything in practice," he said. "He stepped into that varsity performance and he actually ran pretty great." Sparks set a new personal record a minute faster than his previous best posted at Connell and Martinez said this was a great accomplishment for the first-year cross country runner. Setting the pace for the Othello boys was sophomore Ryan Gonzalez who finished 12th in 17:45.17 for another personal record. Martinez said he's used to being a couple spots lower on the depth chart for the team but didn't waste this opportunity to show he's making significant progress. "That's a new PR for him this year, pretty close to his PR time from last year, so he ran amazing in the No. 1 spot this week," he said. Junior Fernando Mendoza also stood out for his performance by finishing in 19:25.6 despite dealing with an injury. Finishing behind him was Arturo Aranzazu, 19:43.1, Ivan Rojas, 20:19.8, and Ethan Besherse, 20:50.2. On the girls squad, sophomore Michelle Murillo was once again the top finisher placing 27th with a time of 22:25.6. Fellow sophomore Olivia Giles was right behind her to finish 31st in 22:55.7. There was some tough competition at Pasco and Martinez said the girls' lower scores than usual show that they need to make some good progress and fast. "It was a reality check for the girls," he said. "It wasn't what we expected for them to perform this past weekend. Once we get to these league meets, we can't have that. We need them to continue to be working hard and that way we could beat a few more teams in our league." With the top runners rested up, Martinez hopes they'll be ready to go for their second-to-last league meet at Prosser this afternoon. They'll also be taking on East Valley and Wapato. Their final league meet is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 16, at Toppenish and Martinez said they'd continue to push themselves as the postseason approaches. "We have to keep working on more conditioning, more speed drills while running seven or eight miles a day in practice," he said. "We've got to focus now on getting a faster pace, faster on our feet and getting in better shape."