Cardinals collect solid finishes at Highlander
Junior Micah Dingfield led all Medical Lake finishers at Saturday’s Highlander Invitational and was eighth amongst juniors in a time of 13 minutes, 23 seconds.
Medical Lake head cross country coach Gene Blankenship might not know exactly what to take out of his team’s performance at last Saturday’s Highlander Invitational at Shadle Park High School.
But whatever it ends up being, this race ultimately promises to at least give his runners more opportuniuty to improve their times.
The Highlander is a huge event that attracted 34 teams from every level of school in three states. And because his runners sometimes competed against bigger schools, or even junior varsity runners, Blankenship will focus on individual efforts.
The boy’s meet is run against like grades, Blankenship explained, but, “The girls’ race there’s two races,” he said. “There’s the combined, which is supposed to be for small schools and then the varsity race.”
“I thought we ran pretty good both boys and girls,” Blankenship said. “I thought we might do a little better but this is the first time we ran that meet so we can’t compare the times to anything.” The Highlander runs a 2.5-mile course compared to the usual 5K or 3.1-mile event that makes up a regular cross country race.
The times are probably two minutes faster for the boys and three for girls, Blankenship guessed.
Freshmen Mark Jensen finished 16th overall and was the top Cardinal runner in that grade group with a time of 15 minutes, 5 seconds.
Jacob Dingfield was seventh overall in the sophomore group with a time of 14:02. Brother Micah Dingfield was eighth amongst juniors in a time of 13:23 and Domenic Rehm was 12th at 13:45 while Tim Chernishoff finished just out of the top-20, 22nd in a time of 14:08.
No one placed high in the senior race. “We only had two seniors run,” Blankenship said with Matthew Peterson 39th in a time of 14:55, the Cardinals’ sixth fastest time of the day for the boys. Jensen was No. 7.
On the girls’ side, the combined format for small schools under 600 in enrollment, but big schools flood the ranks with JV runners. “We got beat by one small school, Polson from Montana, then we got beat by Lewis and Clark’s JV team.”
Three girls got ribbons, paced by freshman Sakaiya McCoy’s 17:13, third behind Polson’s Claudia Hewton, first at 16:28. Fifth overall was Kaylin Sattler (17:27) and Maleeka Wegner (17:35) sixth.
Blankenship is not a fan of the Highlander, but both his boys and girls wanted to run because the competition is so good. “I went by their wishes.”
“I thought we ran pretty good and we got a couple of comments from the meet director and some other people about how well we did as a 1A school,” Blankenship said.
He’s not sure if his runners did better than the previous week at Silverwood.
Next week at the Wenatchee Invite the teams will compete over a 5K course. “That should be an interesting meet for us,” he said. This will be the first time his team has run this specific race, which was postponed three different times in 2012 and finally cancelled due to smoke from wildfires.
The Walla Walla Park course was the site of the Bi-District Championships, however, so Blankenship has times to compare, but the course will be different. “We’ll be able to compare times to see if we’ve improved.”
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.