Prediction comes true for Cardinals at state cross country cross country
Medical Lake’s boys’ cross country team finished third in the 1A classification at the state championships, something that may have been a surprise to some, but not their head coach, Gene Blankenship.
Going into the state cross country championships at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, this past Nov. 3, Medical Lake’s head coach Gene Blankenship made a prediction.
Blankenship thought a finish anywhere from third to sixth for the boys was not out of the question, while the girls could place from sixth to ninth in team competition.
“Pretty close, huh,” Blankenship said with a laugh after the Cardinal boys finished third and the girls eighth on the 5,000 meter course.
The ML boys, with 106 points, finished behind Tacoma’s Charles Wright Academy (87 points) and defending 1A champion Lakeside of Nine Mile (90) in the 16-team field. Their third place finish is the highest finish at State for a cross country team from Medical Lake.
The Cardinal girls scored 202 points while new champ, fellow Northeast A League runners from Riverside captured the title with 70 points, edging out 2011 winner Lakeside’s 78.
“The kids just ran really, really good,” Blankenship said. For 5,000 meters five girls PR’d as did four boys. “I don’t know, we just ran real competitive.”
It was just a good day all around with both boys and girls setting new school records. Sophomore Micah Dingfield’s 16 minute, 31.4 second time – 10th place overall – is the new boys’ standard, while senior Kelby Wegner’s 20:02.6 is what future Cardinal girls will strive to conquer.
One of those future runners, Sakaiya McCoy, was right on Wegner’s hip, finished 19th overall and second on the team at 20:05.
“Micah Dingfield pretty much slaughtered the boys’ record – it was like 16:45 before and he ran 16:31,” Blankenship said.
Critical to Medical Lake’s podium finish were the No. 4 and No. 5 runners, Luke Alvarado (17:23) and Tim Chernishoff (17:32). Blankenship said all year long if Alvarado could run with Chernishoff, “That we’d be a real good team.”
“In the last 200 meters the two must have passed 13 kids and they were the last two scorers on the team,” Blankenship said. “If they don’t pass those 13 kids we don’t make the podium.”
“If I had to pick the kid with the best race it had to be Luke Alvarado,” Blankenship said. Angel Pineda, third at 22:08, “had an excellent race.”
“I’m real pleased with the girls’ performance,” Blankenship said. “We were rated 10th going in and finished eighth, that’s two better.”
The ML boys were fifth-ranked prior to the competition and emerged third. “Getting on that podium and beating teams ranked ahead of us was a great feeling.”
Blankenship also stands by his prediction that Medical Lake will return to Pasco the first Saturday in November, but suggesting there’s even better finishes ahead.
“We’re losing three girls (Wegner, Pineda and Brandi Wren) and three boys (Klemke, Alvarado and Mark Newberry) and it’s going to be hard to replace Kelby, it will be hard to replace Zeb,” Blankenship said.
Blankenship called the 2012 group “The best cross country team that’s ever been at Medical Lake.”
Saturday was not only a great day for Medical Lake teams but individuals as well.
Klemke ran 12 seconds faster than his time last year. Four of the boys PR’d for the 5K distance - Alvarado, Chernishoff, Noah Kroeze and Mark Newberry. They also proved that the coaches’ poll underestimated them, finishing three places higher than seeded. The boys were not in the preseason poll, but bounced around in the 4th-6th spot after that.
“It was a total team performance, both boys and girls,” Blankenship said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.