Cheney Free Press -

By Paul Delaney

Others getting into ML record mood

Cardinal track has many athletes chasing marks


Last updated 4/20/2023 at 8:52am

Decades of experience has provided Medical Lake head track coach Gene Blankenship with very solid insight on his teams.

So, it came a little bit by surprise when his teams snuck away from a Northeast A League meet in Deer Park on April 12 with an unexpected victory.

His Cardinal boys and girls each defeated host Deer Park, but not Freeman, as Blankenship had thought might happen. Freeman won easily, 101-43 on the boys’ side but Medical Lake edged Deer Park 76-67. Freeman’s girls won 85.5-61.5 with the Cardinals escaping 76-73 against the Stags.

On April 15, Medical Lake split its squad in order to compete at both the Pasco Relays and the Van Kuren Invitational in Cheney.

While distance runners Reid Headrick and Kayla Ramsey have been largely in the spotlight lately due to the multiple school records they have set, last week there were others were turning in notable efforts.

“We had a total of 64 PRs (personal records),” Blankenship wrote in a Facebook post with the boys landing 35 and the girls 29 in Deer Park.

Jenna Castro moved to the No. 4 spot in the 1,600 in a time of 5:35.44. Chiche Okembgo moved to fifth all-time in the triple jump at 33 feet, 3.25 inches and into No. 4 in the shot put in 35’10”.

Not to outdone, however, Headrick is knocking on the door of leaving Medical Lake as the owner on all three school marks for distance — the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters. His 9 minute, 39.21 second time is just three seconds shy of the mark.

Ramsey also moved to the second spot in the 800 with her time of 2:22.35. “She missed the school record by 4 seconds,” Blankenship reported.

It’s in somewhat of a unique situation Blankenship finds himself in at Medical Lake. Hired in 2010, and having coached elsewhere for many decades, he’s never been in the position to chase records — except for now.

“We’ve never in a situation that we’re going after records,” he said. And true to form, the 81-year-old said “As a greedy coach I want him to have all three.”

At Pasco both Ramsey in the 1,600 (5:12.10) and Headrick in the 1600 (4:18.82) improved their existing school records.

The following athletes broke into the Top Ten or improved their own performance on the Top Ten.

At Pasco, Castro moved up to the third best time in the 3,200 while Okemgbo improved her distance in the shot with a hurl of 37-11.75.

At th Van Kuren, Adasha Gardner broke into the list in pole vault at 7-feet even. The 4X800 team of Milan Contreras, Hector Gomez, Dakota Phillips and Nakai Ornelas also made the list, finishing 11th in 9:46.27.

Medical Lake has a bye this week in Northeast A League competition but will send as many competitors as he can rustle up on the same day as Senior Prom — Saturday, April 22 — to the Mooberry Relays at Rogers High School in Spokane.

Paul Delaney is a retired Free Press Publishing reporter and can be reached at


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