Cheney Free Press -

Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake cross country season start is delayed


September 14, 2017

The wildfire smoke that left the region choking has finally been whisked away, but it’s left the Medical Lake cross country team a little sight impaired as the Cardinals get a delayed start to their season.

Following the cancellation of the Highlander Invite on Sept. 9 at Shadle Park High School, ML head coach Gene Blankenship is left to wonder a bit as he preps the team for Saturday’s Seaport Invitational in Clarkston, Wash.

“You get a chance to find out who really are the top-seven guys, and who is going to run varsity this Saturday (at the Seaport Invite in Clarkston),” Blankenship said. “I’m not sure where we’re at.”

There were other reasons to see the race completed as it could have given Blankenship an initial idea on how his team really does stack up on the course, not just having the confidence of fellow 1A coaches who voted the team No. 1 in preseason polling.

The Highlander was to have featured their stiffest competition as both Riverside and Lakeside, Northeast A League rivals, and also slotted in the top-10, were entered.

But there was also somewhat of a good side to not putting his athletes under the strain of another three miles on their feet. “In all honesty, racing in cross country tears you down, it does not build you up,” Blankenship said.

His team might have had too much down time with the bad air that put virtually all high school sports on the sidelines last week.

“Unfortunately we had a bad week last week because of all the smoke,” Blankenship said. The team missed last Tuesday because the school would not let anybody practice. “We were inside every day until Saturday,” he added.

The Seaport will give Blankenship a look at one rival, defending 1A state champion Deer Park, which not only lost many of its top runners to graduation, but their coach to another school, Mt. Spokane. The Stags were able to compete last Saturday at Moses Lake where they were fifth.

Paul Delaney can be reached at


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