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The California Pintos cross country team is getting ready for its district meet Nov. 2 at Linn.

The team has experienced a good amount of success this year. The Pintos boys varsity team finished in second place at the Tri-County Conference meet Oct. 17, where Osage finished in first place. Caden Kirksey finished in third place at the meet with a time of 16:33.3, a new school record and also the fifth fastest time in the Tri-County Conference. The boys team also finished in fourth place at the Fatima Invitational on Oct. 26.

The team has finished in the top five in eight races this season, including a first place finish in the Jim Marshall Cross Country Invite in Jefferson City on Sept. 7 for the 1A-2A category.

Head coach Ron Lebel said the team has had a good season.

"We ended up second in conference this year, but Osage has a pretty good team," Lebel said. "I think we had a good year. Our times have gone down all year long for not just one or two runners but for the majority of the team."

Before the year started, the team was looking for runners to step up for the spots behind their two top runners in Kirksey and Trevor Porter. Multiple runners have done just that for the team.

"Ian Miller has come a long way, he was running 21 minutes early in the year and now he has gone as low as 19:07," Lebel said. "He has cut two to three minutes off his time. Eli Dunnaway has been pretty consistent for us; he ran a 19:23 for us in conference. So his times have gradually gotten better over the year. David Leon ran a 19:25 in conference. So those are three that have kind of stepped up for us and have been pretty consistent for us, and it has made us a pretty good team."

Lebel said the team will be in a loaded district, as the team had moved up to Class 3 a couple of years ago. Regardless, he said, the team is going to compete and see what happens.

"We are just to going to be sharp and ready to go on Saturday," Lebel said.

On the girls side, the team has only four runners led by Sarah Kirby, who has medaled in every meet this year. Lebel said Kirksey, Porter and Kirby all have shots at qualifying for state.

Lebel said the team is trying to build on the girls side, but that it is tough with all the other activities available for girls during the cross country season.

"We had eight junior high girls runners, and they had a nice year. They competed in a lot of the races." Lebel said. "We also have the Little Pintos that my wife runs that has some girl runners on it. We are just trying to build on the girls side; the girls side is awful tough just because of there are so many things available to them right now. There is volleyball, there is cheer, there is dance, there is girls golf, there is softball. So we are doing the best we can to get the girls out and interested but, like I said, there are so many things going on. You have to truly be in love with running cross country. I think we are heading in the right direction. We are trying to build more girls to be interested."

Lebel said he is proud all of the runners have stayed with the team this season and that each runner's time has improved as the season progressed.

"All of our runners have stuck with it this year, and we haven't had anyone quit," Lebel said. "Our times all across the board have gotten better. I would say that is most impressive thing, that our time has gotten better as the year has gone along."

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