Eric Lafontaine | Oct 01, 2009 | Comments 0 Tommy Valdez , left, competes in his first varsity meet.

The Huskie cross country team accomplished a milestone never before reached on Saturday at the Connell Invitational on Sept. 26. They returned with some hardware.

“The last time Othello brought home any trophy was 1968 when coach Rudy Ochoa ran for the Huskies,” coach J.J. Martinez said. “They won districts that year … that’s 41 years since we’ve brought back a trophy.”

Martinez said the Huskies’ finish was the first first-place trophy ever for an invitational meet. The meet was attended by 23 high schools. The Othello boys placed first in the 2A race beating Clarkston, Toppenish, Prosser and Grandview. The also placed sixth overall.

“The kids were really excited,” Martinez said. “It was a big turn around for the cross country team and a really big accomplishment.”

Led by the one-two punch of junior Eduardo Montes and sophomore Josh Morris, the Huskies had five runners finish in under 20 minutes.

Montes finished 17th with a 17:53 time, followed by Morris at 17:54 and an 18th place finish.

“Eduardo is just a great motivator to these kids,” Martinez said. “He’s a role model. Everyone is looking up to him.”

The girls finished third behind Prosser and Clarkston in the 2A battle.

Junior Christine Kirkwood and senior Karina Martinez were Othello’s top girl runners and finished within one second of each other at 24:54 and 24:55.

“There were a lot of tough girls’ team out there,” Martinez said.

Chelan senior Gaby Guillen won the event with a time of 20:35.

The Connell Invitational trophy wasn’t the only Huskie cross country milestone achieved last week.

Senior Tommy Valdez, a blind Othello athlete, competed in his first varsity cross country meet when the Huskies hosted Ephrata, Prosser and Selah for a 5K event on Sept. 24 at Lions Park in Othello.

Valdez, a huge inspiration for Huskie athletes, finished with a time of 33:47 and received one of the best birthday gifts ever on Saturday at Connell Invite.

He joined the varsity boys on the trophy stand.

“His birthday was a great motivation for us to win that trophy,” Martinez said. “He was able to represent Othello and accepted the trophy with the other varsity runners … he loved it.”

The Huskies will compete in the Pasco Invitational Oct. 3.