Cheney girls advance to state as runners-up at districts

Blackhawks boys join Deer Park in trip to Yakima regional


John McCallum

Cheney cross country head coach Jay Martin snaps a photo while shouting encouragement to Blackhawks’ runners Matt Duray (20) and Corey Klotz-Brooks (32) at District 7 competition last Friday.

One point.

That’s the margin that separated the Cheney boys’ cross country team from an upset win over Deer Park at District 7 competition Friday afternoon at Plantes Ferry State Park in Spokane Valley. In the end, the Blackhawks’ second-place finish, edged 43-44 by the Stags, earned them a trip to Yakima’s Applewood Golf Course this Saturday to face Central Washington Athletic Conference teams for a shot at one of four berths to state Nov. 3.

“We got within a point and I’m thrilled about that,” Cheney head coach Jay Martin said.

In girls’ competition senior Sanne Holland won her fourth District 7 title to lead Cheney to a second place finish and automatic berth to state at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The girls finished with 57 points, nine back of league champion Deer Park and five ahead of East Valley.

Kyle Lerch led the Blackhawk boys, finishing sixth in 17 minutes, 28 seconds while Nick Steele was 6.5 seconds behind in seventh and Corey Klotz-Brooks was eighth in 17:40.80. Matt Duray was 10th in 17:45.40 with Jesse Hallstrom wrapping up Cheney’s scoring in 13th at 18:00.50, with Steaven Zachman 17th in 18:23.70 and Kameron Galm 20th at 18:34.80. Deer Park’s Daniel Amann took first in 16:44.20, with East Valley’s Scott Kopczynski second in 16:59.50 – the only two runners under 17 minutes on a chilly, windy afternoon on the open course at Plantes Ferry.

Holland dueled East Valley freshman Brittany Aquino for most of the 3.1-mile race, pulling away down the stretch to win in 19:09.80, with Aquino second in 19:15.40. Mariah Brenton was sixth in 21:44.20, with Anika Kuula 12th in 22:17.30, Mattie McNair 17th in 22:31.40 and Johanna Sherman finishing 21st at 23:03.00 to wrap up Cheney’s scoring runners. Karli Eaker (25th, 23:24.90) and Vanessa Fricker (34th, 24:19.30) wrapped up Cheney’s varsity seven.

The Blackhawk girls now have two weeks to prepare for state competition, an unusual situation for Martin and his staff.

“Number one, we’re excited about them qualifying,” he said. “Number two, we’re glad we’ve got two weeks because we’ve got some owies.”

The last two years the GNL girls have teamed with girls’ teams from the CWAC for a regional meet, sending the top four teams and 20-plus runners on to state. While there was no regional competition in 2009, the District 7 meet took place the week prior to state, leaving no downtime.

Martin said the challenge would be to keep the girls rested and healthy while also maintaining and even improving on their competitive abilities. The girls are in the “rest phase” right now, but will prepare for Sun Willows with some key workouts and workouts simulating racing conditions.

“We need to keep our young minds from straying,” Martin said.

The boys’ situation is different. While advancing on in the post season is great, Cheney and Deer Park are essentially traveling to Applewood next Saturday as add-ons to the CWAC’s district meet, competing against all 10 teams for one of four slots to Pasco.

Martin said he’s “hopeful” for the boys. Cheney faced a couple of CWAC schools, Selah and Ellensburg, at the Richland invitational, but weren’t at full strength.

Cheney may have two advantages helping them towards one of those four slots. The first is the boys are running a consistently good gap between the No. 1 and No. 5 runners – 32 seconds at Plantes Ferry.

The other advantage is Deer Park is also going, and the Stags have not only faced several of the top CWAC schools this year, they expect to win the overall 12-team competition.

“Deer Park has beaten all those guys (CWAC) handily, so we’re going to run close to them and maybe we can sneak in,” Martin said.

John McCallum can be reached at


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