September 13, 2012 |

Cardinal cross country runners impress coach at Silverwood race

Medical Lake boys finish ahead of defending state champion Lakeside in Coaster Classic

By PAUL DELANEY

Staff Reporter

One part of Gene Blankenship hates the yearly trips his Medical Lake cross country team takes to Silverwood Theme Park.

His stomach.

That's because “of the pure terror,” the park's churning thrill rides produce for the Cardinals' head coach.

But what his boys' team did last Saturday at the Coaster Classic race will be the perfect way to combat any nausea. Beating the defending state champions in your classification is the perfect elixir.

“It was a great day, especially on the boys' side,” Blankenship said. “The exciting thing is we finished seventh overall, we beat Lakeside who finished ninth, and they won the state championship.”

Capital High School of Boise won the championship with 82 points while the Cardinals scored 220 and Lakeside 236 in the 25-team field of varsity runners. To illustrate the progress his team has made going into his third year as head coach, in 2011 Medical Lake was 14th.

The Cardinals' No. 1 finisher was sophomore Micah Dingfield in a time of 16 minutes, 38 seconds on the 5,000 meter course. “Last year he ran 18:27,” Blankenship said. Dingfield was 16th overall, finishing behind the 15:35 from Andrew Rafia of Timberline.

Senior Zeb Klemke (24th) continues to chase Dingfield, finishing No. 2 in a time of 16:47, compared to his 17:37 in 2011.

Domenic Rehm ran a 17:02 Saturday and 19:47 in 2011. Tim Chernishoff was fourth at 17:48, up from a 19:31 a year ago. Ryan Spangler was the fifth boys' finisher at 18:19 compared to a 20:55 in 2011.

Sixth was the newest member of the team, Mark Newberry, at 18:43.

“Actually one of our JV kids, Luke Alvarado, ran the seventh fastest time, 18:38,” Blankenship added. “It's just so exciting to watch so far.”

Senior Kelby Wegner was 24th overall and first for ML's girls with a 20:22 compared to a 22:04 in 2011. Emily Coleman from Boise's Centennial paced the 149-runner girls' field with a time of 19:07.

Timberlime emerged as the girls' team champs with 62 points. Medical Lake's scored 397 points to finish 16th. The preseason No. 2 freshman Sakaiya McCoy maintained that spot at Silverwood with a 22:02 followed by senior Brandi Wren's 23:29.

Sophomore Maleeka Wegner clocked a 23:30 after a 26-flat in 2011. “A big improvement,” Blankenship said. Abigail Morrison was the fifth and the final girls' finisher for the Cards at 24:52.

Blankenship will guide his team to what he hopes in another team championship in Saturday's Seaport Invitational in Clarkston. “We had a pretty good race there last year,” Blankenship said.

Blankenship has had regular success at the Seaport while both an assistant coach previously with West Valley and now carries that forward with Medical Lake.

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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