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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Gonzaga signs highly regarded distance runner James Mwaura

Lincoln’s James Mwaura, right, the reigning champion in the boys 3,200-meter run at the State 3A track and field meet, has signed to run at Gonzaga University. He is also a two-time state cross country champion. (Patrick Hagerty / For The Spokesman-Review)
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James Mwaura, one of the top distance recruits in the class of 2018, signed his national letter of intent with Gonzaga University, the school announced Thursday.

Pat Tyson, GU’s director of cross country and track and field, and Mwaura both attended Lincoln High School in Tacoma. Tyson graduated from Lincoln in 1968, and 50 years later, Mwaura will finish his stellar high school career.

“Wow, we got a good one in James Mwaura,” Tyson said. “This kid is the real deal. He was highly recruited by top-end Division I schools and he picked Gonzaga. Many coaches consider James one of the top prospects in the country.”

After placing eighth at the State 3A cross country championships in his sophomore season, Mwaura cruised to first-place finishes in his junior and senior seasons. He ran the third-lowest time at the state meet this past fall in Pasco.

Mwaura placed fourth at Nike’s Cross Country Nationals in 2017. He won the 2017 and 2016 Nike Cross Country Northwest Regional and placed 18th at nationals last fall.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to continue my education and athletic career at Gonzaga,” Mwaura said. “After meeting Tyson and my future teammates, I knew it was the place for me.

On the track under Lincoln head coach Andrew Fuller, Mwaura is one of three athletes in the nation who has run two sub-9-minute 3,200-meter efforts in 2018. His 3,200 personal record is 8:51.62, while his 1,600 personal record is 4:11.31. He has run 14:48.30 in the 5,000.

Mwaura won the 3,200-meter state title last season, after placing second in 2016. He was third in the 1,600 in 2017, and fourth in his sophomore season.

Following this year’s state championships, Mwaura has been invited to run in the prestigious Brooks PR Invitational in Shoreline, Washington, on June 8.

Mwaura was born in Kenya, but his family moved to Tacoma when he and his younger sister, Patience, were toddlers. His mother, Sophia, played volleyball and his father, Stephen, played soccer at Kenya Polytechnic University.