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Washington preps: Not all routs take the worst route

Linda Sheridan was in the formative stages of her storied Shadle Park coaching career when, as an equally young sports writer at the Spokane Valley Herald, I wrote critically of the Highlanders posting a lopsided win over an outmanned Central Valley girls basketball team.

I didn’t know her then, but we’re friends today. She reminded me recently about that story at our meeting with the Inland Northwest Sports Hall of Fame committee.

Sheridan’s remarks were timely considering recent comments on my blog taking Ferris to task for running up the score on North Central in football and we sports writers not holding teams who do so accountable.

Girls basketball has particularly been singled out over the years, but few sports are immune as the running clock added to football attests. Sheridan, who had an exceptional coaching career, sees things differently because she believes most critics don’t understand the extenuating circumstances involved.

Sheridan and I have talked about this several times and I have come to see her point. Sometimes, no matter what you do it’s impossible to keep a score down. It’s unfair to penalize starters simply because they are better. It can be just as humiliating to lie down for a team to which you’re clearly superior.

Sometimes, the onus is on the losing coach. When first-year University football coach Bob Bartlett took a 63-6 whipping from Gonzaga Prep in 1985, I approached him afterward about his thoughts of having had the score run up on him. I was surprised he expressed no acrimony. Bartlett accepted the blame, saying it was his responsibility to prepare and coach his team better.

It wasn’t the only time the Bullpups put 60 points on a foe during Don Anderson’s well-regarded Hall-of-Fame career. I don’t recall much criticism.

Perception is in the eye of the beholder. Others haven’t had it so easy over the years, as my blog attests.

Some games do get out of hand and I’m sure some unthinking coaches do pile it on. But I’ve come to agree with Sheridan that appearances can be deceiving, and results most often are a combination of things.

But give Mead coach Sean Carty his due for putting in his second team in the fourth quarter against LC last week, leading 28-0 and not panicking in the face of a late Tigers rally.

From personal experience, I have come to believe it’s in the best long-term interests of a program for coaches to play as many athletes as possible.

Highlander invite changes course

Saturday’s annual Highlander Invitational cross country meet will have a new two-lap 2.5-mile course because of the construction of a new swimming pool at the Shadle Park site. Everything else remains the same.

There are seven races, beginning with freshman boys at 9:30 a.m. and followed at half-hour intervals by freshman girls, sophomore boys, girls combined, junior boys, varsity girls and senior boys.

The top four runners per school determine team results in all but the varsity girls and combined events, which score five. Twenty-eight trophies will be awarded for the top three teams and individual winners of each race. Ribbons are awarded to second through 20th runners.