Staff Reporter 

Medical Lake Fall All-NEA 2017


November 30, 2017

Medical Lake High School

Bottom row from left to right: Makayla Geiger (soccer), JJ Johnson (football), Mason Williams (XC), Jaxyn Farmen (soccer). Middle row: Evan Petersen (XC), Maris Tuck (XC), Taylor Cannon (soccer), Tyler Pena (XC). Top row: Brandon McCoy (XC) and Tanner Henry (XC).

Medical Lake's state championship cross country team led the list of Cardinals selected to All-Northeast A League teams in the fall of 2017 with six members. The playoff-qualifying soccer squad landed three athletes and football, one.

In addition to league awards, head cross country coach Gene Blankenship earned honors as the 1A Coach of the Year, having helped guide the school to two titles, the other in 2014, and a pair of second place finishes in the last four years.

Cross Country (first team):

Mason Williams was a member of the varsity all four years and has the distinction of winning two state championships and two runners-up. This came despite a hip injury that has been on and off for the past three years.

"When he manages to tolerate the pain and get to a race he runs really, really good, like he did at state," Blankenship said of Williams.

Tyler Pena played football in eighth grade, missing the middle school title that helped launch the present-day ML success, but running has been his forte ever since.

"I think he has a real good future if he goes on because he's now starting to come around," Blankenship said. "Tyler has an extreme confidence in himself, that's his biggest asset."

Tanner Henry was selected as the Cardinals' team captain this fall, "He doesn't hesitate to tell me when he thinks I'm wrong," Blankenship said. That, Blankenship said, comes from his solid upbringing.

Henry has two brothers - Nicholas and Benjamin - who run in the program and a sixth grader in the pipeline for the future.

Maris Tuck is just a freshman and came out of middle school to qualify at state and will be part of a solid foundation for the program in years to come.

"(Assistant coach) Steve (Warrington) and I were looking to establish a particular culture with the girls team," assistant coach Lisa Henry wrote in an email.

Along with her teammates, Tuck, described as "relentlessly competitive," gave the team "What we were looking for," Henry said. It was even better when an athlete like that gets to shine, especially so early in her career.

Cross Country (second team):

Evan Peterson ran a solid third man for us up until state, Blankenship said and had his best season overall.

Brandon McCoy was a consistent part of the team."He was key to how we performed at district's and state," Blankenship said.

Football (second team):

"Jacquez Johnson was truly our best and most complete player," his coach, Mo Owen said of the senior sparkplug.

Johnson played quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. He was also team captain, setting a wonderful example for the younger players. "Jacquez is deserving of this award for his contributions on and off the field for the Cardinals," Owen added.

Soccer (first team):

Taylor Cannon was named as the NEA's top goalkeeper. She was one of the team captains and overall team MVP, an honor voted on by the players. She also made the All Academic first team with a 4.0 GPA.

Makayla Geiger rewrote the Medical Lake girl's soccer record books and earned all league honors at forward and was a second team all academic selection. She was voted the most valuable offensive player and a team captain.

Geiger set school goal scoring records for both season and career (28 - season) (73 - career). Geiger has broken the school record for most career points (166) - a combination of goals (two points) and assists (one point).

Jaxyn Farmen was one of the NEA's top defender and first-team All Academic. She was also a team captain and the most valuable defender. She earned coach's awards for the player who displays a combination of hustle, leadership, attitude and commitment. Farmen also led the team in assists this year.

Paul Delaney can be reached at

ML's Gene Blankenship was named the state's 1A cross country coach of the year.


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