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Running to college: Moses Lake’s Salas Tepale signs to run with Spokane Falls

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | June 10, 2024 3:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Moses Lake senior Ambar Salas Tepale signed to run both cross country and track with Community Colleges of Spokane on Thursday, becoming the third Maverick runner to advance to the collegiate level this year.

“I’m extremely excited,” Salas Tepale said. “I have all of my teammates and a couple of other supporters coming from TRIO Upward Bound, my parents are here, coaches — I’m just really excited because it’s all coming together, and I get to see everybody and really make them proud.”

While the senior competed in both cross country and track and field during her time at Moses Lake, Salas Tepale said cross country was her sport of focus. She’s run competitively since middle school but began taking it more seriously once she reached high school.

“I did it for two years in middle school, but that was more so just an excuse to hang out with my friends — I never really raced, but then I got really into it my (freshman) year,” Salas Tepale said. “My teammates made it super easy to stay.”

“The end of her sophomore year she just kind of blossomed and she took off,” Moses Lake cross country head coach Larry Dagnon said. “I’m ecstatic, I couldn’t be happier and more proud.”

Salas Tepale, who will attend Spokane Falls, said one of the main things she’s looking forward to is training at the next level — that interest in training came from her visit to the campus and running with some of the athletes there.

“They have a state park right behind their campus, and they have lots of mileage of trail running,” Salas Tepale said. “That was my favorite run I’ve ever done, and I think that’s what I’m really excited for — to be able to explore and go up and down hills.”

Along with training, there’s the excitement of joining a new team.

“I loved it here — the team made such an impact on my life, and I just can’t wait to have another team of girls to bond with and a new set of coaches to train with and make proud as well,” Salas Tepale said. 

Dagnon spoke highly of Salas Tepale’s leadership during the ceremony; at one moment, he asked all the Maverick athletes in attendance to raise their hands if they had been affected by her leadership, to which all of them responded by raising their hands.

“Ambar is a really good leader, and she’s a good leader because she will say things that need to be said,” Dagnon said. “… When you look at what she would do, she was always leading; she was thinking about tomorrow so they could have their best day. She was very selfless.”

Salas Tepale will join 2023 Moses Lake graduate Ashlee Scheel, who also runs cross country and track for Spokane Falls.

“(Scheel) was definitely one of my favorites when she did run here with the high school, and it’s nice to see a familiar face immediately when I go ingot college,” Salas Tepale said. 

Salas Tepale is the third Moses Lake runner to sign on to run in college; seniors Paige Perkins and Sylvie Gephart both signed earlier this year, moving on to run at Savannah College of Art and Design and Central Washington University, respectively. 

“Now they’re all rooted in some of these college programs, and now some of their college coaches are like, ‘Hey, who do you have in your hometown?’” Dagnon said. “Ashlee Scheel shared about Ambar, and over at Central, Camryn (Holterhoff) shared about Sylvie (Gephart). We’re starting a pipeline.”

At Spokane Falls, Salas Tepale said she will pursue an associate’s program in social work.

“That was a really big thing for me, that they had a program that I liked and I knew would teach me the things I wanted to learn for the career I’m going into,” Salas Tepale said. “When I went to go on my visit, the coach was super awesome and the girls were extremely nice and welcoming. That solidified it.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

 

    Moses Lake cross country head coach Larry Dagnon, center right, speaks highly of Maverick senior Ambar Salas Tepale, right, during Thursday’s signing ceremony.