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CdA’s Gomez wins again

Coeur d'Alene's long-distance ace Kinsey Gomez returned to the top of the state championship podium at the State 5A cross country meet Saturday.

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By Greg Lee

Staff writer

WORLEY, Idaho – As a freshman, Kinsey Gomez shocked the State 5A meet field by knocking off the defending champion.

Two years later, the Coeur d’Alene standout dethroned another state champ, and this time Gomez didn’t sneak up on anybody.

Gomez, in fact, pounded the field into submission, clocking 18 minutes, 9.41 seconds around the 3.1-mile layout at Circling Raven Golf Course to beat reigning state champ Liz Brandon of Eagle by more than 33 seconds Saturday afternoon.

Gomez and Brandon were neck and neck through the first of two loops before Gomez sprinted from the pack.

“She had one more gear than I did,” Brandon said. “She’s a great competitor and I really love running against her. She deserves this one.”

Gomez was unchallenged in winning the state-qualifying regional meet on the same course a week earlier in 18:41.5. Her state time was even more impressive considering there was a steady 25-mph wind coming from the west that cut through the runners for half the race.

“Before the race they (the coaches) told us there were certain parts (of the course) where you wanted to be behind people and on certain sides of them, and I was going to take that to heart,” Gomez said. “But it didn’t really play into my race as I thought it would.”

That’s because she never trailed.

“I wasn’t expecting to be out in the lead,” Gomez said. “I thought I would stay in the front pack and see where I could take the lead.”

CdA coach Cathy Compton couldn’t wipe the ear-to-ear grin off her face afterward.

“Was that beyond spectacular?” Compton asked. “It was perfect. The maturity in her running is beyond words.”

The CdA boys, led by the third-place finish of David Norris (16:25.13), took second behind perennial power Boise. The Viks had 83 points, 30 behind Boise.

Leading Boise was Eric Fitzpatrick, who captured a third consecutive state title (16:01.86). Finishing runner-up for a second straight year was Lake City’s C.J. Helbling (16:02.59).

The 5A boys race was the best of the day. Fitzpatrick and Helbling were side by side most of the way until Fitzpatrick broke ahead with 30 meters to go.

“He’s the best competitor I’ve ever raced,” Fitzpatrick said of Helbling. “He was the only person I was willing to lose to. But I didn’t want to lose. If anyone else had beat me I would have been pissed, but I would have been OK with him beating me. We were within three feet of each other the entire race until the finish.”

Helbling, who has battled a quad injury the past month, thought he raced as well as he could Saturday.

“I think I had a good race, I’m just not in the best shape,” Helbling said.

3A: The Timberlake girls captured the first state title for a girls sport in school history.

Timberlake posted 84 points, topping runner-up Gooding by 13. Freshman Ashley George took third (20:26.31).

Timberlake coach Shawn Lawlor knew his team put five runners in first before any other team. But he refused to accept congratulations until he was officially told his team won.

“I haven’t been this emotional since my kids were born,” Lawlor said. “An absolute dream come true. I started this (program) from scratch (in 2003). We had nothing. Now it’s like you’re baby’s all grown up and she goes out and wins a state title.”

Brian Tucker of Timberlake took third (17:19.66).

Greg Lee
Greg Lee joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a prep reporter covering Eastern Washington and North Idaho schools.

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