PASCO – At the start of the season, Gene Blankenship predicted his Medical Lake boys cross country team would defend its State 1A championship.
Considering the talent he had back, it wasn’t an overly bold prognostication. But it did put a target on his runners’ backs.
So Blankenship took it a step farther by putting a bull’s-eye on the Cardinals’ team T-shirt.
No matter, Medical Lake repeated in dominating fashion Saturday under gorgeous conditions at Sun Willows Golf Course.
The Cardinals finished with 53 points, outdistancing runner-up King’s (80) and Riverside (82), which took third.
As he did a year ago, Domenic Rehm led Medical Lake, placing fourth in a time of 15 minutes, 47.26 seconds.
Medical Lake placed five in the top 16.
“We knew from the start that we were the No. 1 team,” Blankenship said. “But you have to prove it on the day with your legs. We had a heckuva race out of everybody.”
Rehm set a solid pace for the Cardinals.
“I did everything that I wanted to do,” Rehm said. “It was just the last half mile that they (the three finishers) pulled away and I had nothing left because I gave my all to stay up with them.”
Rehm was more pleased with the team than any individual results.
“We didn’t race to our personal goals but as a team we got the job done so that’s all that matters,” Rehm said. “I wanted to throw in some surges around two miles and try to pull away but they all followed. I did everything I could. I had nothing at the end so I’m fine with that.
“We’ve worked for four years to do what we did (back-to-back titles). We got better from the back of the pack this year and that helped a lot.”
Teammate Micah Dingfield finished eighth (16:19.52) and freshman Mason Williams was 11th (16:32.27).
Blankenship brought two other freshmen who were alternates. The Cardinals won’t likely be in the title hunt next year, but the year after will be a different story, Blankenship said.
“When these freshmen are juniors we’ll win again,” he said. “That’s another of my bold predictions that get me in trouble some of the time.”
Freshman Ben Shaw and Brandon Hartill led Riverside. Shaw finish ninth (16:26.58) and Hartill was 10th (16:27.75).
In the girls, Lakeside defended their title. The Eagles finished with 49 points, 12 ahead of Northwest. Riverside took fourth (133).
Leading the way for Lakeside was Chelsea Tremblay, who took third – 10 spots ahead of last year. She finished in 19:03.23.
Teammates Lindy Jacobson (5th, 19:14.26) and Jessica Ircink (8th, 19:36.86) followed.
“I’m just amazed,” Tremblay said. “I’m so happy that all my hard work paid off.”
Tremblay thought she took off too fast.
“I felt I went pretty fast at the beginning and I was a little worried,” Tremblay said. “I was afraid I’d die in the middle.”
As for her team, Tremblay said the experience couldn’t have been better the last two years.
“Our team is so close, we love each other and work so hard together,” she said. “I’m happy we could go out with another state title.”
Other top area finishers were Moriah Duenich of Deer Park (6th, 19:25.88), Alyssa Zimmerman of Freeman (9th, 19:39.59) and Alice Burchett of Riverside (10th, 19:42.31).
Alexis Redfield of Zillah won the individual title (18:42.80).
The one-two finish the East Valley duo of Chad Stevens and Scott Kopcyznski desired didn’t quite happen. But at least one captured gold.
Stevens pulled away from his teammates in the last half mile, winning in a time of 15:17.24.
Moments after crossing the finish line, Stevens looked back expecting to see Kopcyznski right behind him. Instead he saw his friend get passed in the final 20 meters. Kopcyznski finished third (15:26.18).
Stevens said he had to make a decision when he saw the pack behind him.
“I almost told him ‘dude, they’re coming we’ve got to go’,” Stevens said. “If I’d said that, he would have at least taken second if not have beaten me. I had no energy. I was absolutely dead. I don’t know what happened but I found it somewhere.”
EV had its best finish since 2004, finishing fourth with 163 points. Sehome won (52).
Stevens and Kopcyznski ran lock step all season.
Skylar Ovnicek of West Valley was sixth (15:35.44).
In the girls, Brittany Aquino of EV took third (18:35.42) and McCall Skay of West Valley was fourth (18:58.19).
Sehome won the team title with 50 points. Pullman was fourth (144) and Cheney ninth (259).
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