Cardinal runners return to state
Medical Lake boys top Bi-Districts, girls finish third at Plantes Ferry
Medical Lake's Tim Chernishoff and Riverside's Brandon Hartill battle it out as they head to the finish line last Saturday in the 1A Bi-District cross country race at Plantes Ferry Park in Spokane Valley. Hartill won in a photo finish by 16/100s of a second in the race for 10th place. Omak's Samuel Goble trailed by .48 seconds. All three will head to state in Pasco.
The Medical Lake Cardinals will return en force to the state cross country championships this Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco, this time with a legitimate chance at taking home the school's first title in the sport.
Following a predictable finish in last Saturday's Bi-District championships at windy Plantes Ferry Park with a team and individual win in 1A boys, the Cardinals head to Pasco as one of the teams to beat.
With junior Micah Dingfield leading the way in the boys' competition with a time of 16 minutes, 38.89 seconds and taking the individual championship, the Cardinals outdistanced Northeast A League foe Riverside 42-67. The NEA's Lakeside was third at 73. Lakeside's JT Lauderdale trailed Dingfield with a 16:44.34.
For his efforts, Dingfield was awarded the most valuable runner medal.
Jacob Dingfield (17:10.39), a sophomore, was second and junior Domenic Rehm (17:23.03) third as the Cards took three of the top six places.
While Cardinals' head coach Gene Blankenship was confident of his boy's team win going in, the ML girls were a surprise third and also return as a team to Pasco. The NEA swept the girls' competition as Lakeside won with 33 points followed by Riverside at 47 and Medical Lake with 91, one point up on league rival Freeman.
Oft injured sophomore Sakaiya McCoy led the Medical Lake girls with a 13th place finish in a time of 21:27.96, but it was having junior Maleeka Wegner in 14th and Kaylin Sattler's 19th in a time of 21:50.17 provide just enough points to get past the Scotties.
Riverside's Rebecca Mildes' 19:02.98 was the top time for the 1A girls as the Rams took two of the top three individual spots. But it was Lakeside's stream of finishers from fourth through seventh that earned the Eagles the team title.
The No. 1 ranked Cardinal boys finished third last year at state with 106 points, behind champion Charles Wright Academy (87) and Lakeside with 90. "I think one of us three are going to be the champions of 1A," Blankenship said. Charles Wright, the defending champion lost a lot of people and will not be back, he said.
Medical Lake is the favorite in 2013, Blankenship thinks, with LaCenter and Meridian certainly in the mix. "I still think we're the team, to beat, there's no doubt about that, our kids want it."
"In all honesty we didn't run as well as we are capable of doing," Blankenship said. "A combination of the conditions, of nerves, or what; we scored 42 points, I figured we should have been in the high 20s, low 30s."
While morning-long rain stopped just prior to the start of the B-school races at 11 a.m., a strong and cold southerly wind altered times and made life miserable on thinly-clad athletes who either had the gusts in their faces or at their backs.
"The times were slow but the conditions were terrible," Blankenship said. "The whole course was windy, you ran into it a lot."
Except for Dingfield who, his coach said, "Ran a perfect race. His time was slow but still, he won the race."
When Dingfield decided to make his final move he just made sure that there wasn't anybody that could catch him, Blankenship explained. That was with less than a half-mile remaining.
"I'm extremely ecstatic about my girls," Blankenship said.
McCoy was running her first race since the third or fourth week of the season, "She hasn't been able to run but she's a swimmer so she swims a lot."
But what Blankenship likes best is she's only a sophomore.
McCoy, who had been on the mend for a muscle injury, went out strong, despite being asked by he coach not to. "If we hadn't had her running we might have still qualified but in fourth," Blankenship said.
Wegner ran a real solid race, her coach said.
The Medical Lake JV boys finished third in competition that included all the meet's schools. "We got beat by Lakeside and Cheney," Blankenship said. Freshman Mark Jensen was the Cardinals' top finisher with a time of 19:05.20 and will be the seventh runner Saturday in Pasco.
We're taking 18 kids to state again," Blankenship said. "I think we're going to run exceptional well through three on Saturday, OK at four and if Noah (Kroeze) gives us his best race of the season, we're going to win the title."
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.