The familiar voice wasn’t cheering and the postrace hug was missing but Jamie Lambie knows her mother saw every step as she helped Central Valley race to the Greater Spokane League championship on a glorious Wednesday afternoon.
“I have to think my mom’s here and she’s with me the whole time,” Lambie said after the Bears’ pack rolled past Mead in the final quarter mile at Audubon Park. “Even though she’s not here any more she’s watching over me. Everything I’m doing she’s with me.”
Patricia Lambie, 46, was bicycling in support of CV runners during the Spokane-to-Sandpoint relay race when she was struck and killed by a car near Blanchard, Idaho, on Aug. 14.
What she saw was CV freshman Rachel Casey surge past the No. 2 Mead runner, then junior Josie Warner go by before freshman Alex Moore came up to lead the trio to the finish line and a 24-33 win over Mead. She also got to see North Central sophomore Katie Knight destroy Kinsey Gomez’s record of 14 minutes, 48 seconds by 7 seconds on the 3-mile course.
“We’ve been working a lot, running as a team, going out as a team,” Moore said. “We know we can do it. We had a lot of things to go through this year. We just focused at pulling together as a team.”
With Gonzaga Prep (4-2) losing to Mt. Spokane, CV (7-1) is a comfortable leader, facing Rogers next week while Mead (5-1) has the Bullpups.
Two months ago no one was sure if the Bears would be in this position as Lambie, who was CV’s No. 2 runner at state last year as a sophomore, wondered if she could run.
“But my mom loved cross country so much this was something I knew I had to do for her so I stepped up and said I was doing cross country this year no matter what,” she said, fighting back tears. “We made it through.
“It was my team. I wouldn’t be able to it without them. They were with me the whole time, every step of the way. I’m still not through it but they make everything so much easier. I think if I wasn’t in cross country I’d be a complete mess.”
And they were with her on this day – the five scoring CV runners finishing within 35 seconds of each other and then surrounding her as she tried to talk – just as they have been all year.
“I guess we had two directions to go,” emotional CV coach Dennis McGuire said. “We could have broken into different cliques. We were worried about that. We got them together and told them to focus on our running and our family. I think that allowed an escape for Jamie, a place to go where she felt safe and a place where she had lots of support, lots of hugs from all of her peers.”
That doesn’t mean it was easy.
“When I finished for the first couple of times, my mom came to every single race, I found myself kind of disoriented looking for her and she wasn’t there,” Lambie said. “It’s hard to want one of those things I’ll never have again.”
“Psychologically it’s been really hard,” McGuire said. “Jamie’s first race here she couldn’t run because she kept picturing her mom around the course. She just felt horrible. She was waiting for her mom to yell good job. She just now, probably today, got to the point where she doesn’t look for her all over the course.”
The Bears ran OK in their first meet, but lost to powerful – and then healthy – Shadle Park.
“We ran really well that day, too,” McGuire said. “We just didn’t have that No. 1 runner to break up that 1-2-3. We didn’t have the guns to come through. But since that point on we’ve just come closer and closer and closer as a team. That’s what we preach all the time.”
Then the Bears took another blow when junior varsity runner Emily Korotish’s father had a heart attack and died three weeks ago, but by then they had found their resolve.
“We kind of relived the whole thing,” McGuire said. “That whole week we were in the same mode (but) we knew we were going to get through that. It was just as tragic but not the same, but it still brought all the memories back. We all went to the funeral together on a bus. That was a good release and the next week we got back to work as a group.”
Now for Lambie tears of joy are mixed in.
“She’d be ecstatic, she’d be bawling, she bawled at everything,” Lambie said. “She’d be cheering for me, smiling, telling me how much she loves me. She’d just be so happy. She loved this so much.
“It feels amazing. I have such a great family that’s behind me, they support me so much. I’m so happy that something good happened for a change, everything isn’t falling apart, it’s different now.”
Knight had the girls race over in a few yards as Mead senior Baylee Mires held back because she was sick.
“I didn’t know,” said Knight, whose team is 2-4. “The strategy was if she goes, then we’ll race, but it wasn’t going to change the strategy, which was to go out hard and work. I am surprised. It was really difficult to push myself like that. It was one of those things you say … if you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it so you might as well go all the way.
“My coaches and my dad … said keep pushing the pace. I had an idea but I didn’t actually know if I’d finish it out. It was a good surprise.”
The boys had a strong race as Mead sophomore Andrew Gardner and NC seniors Vince Hamilton and Casey Adams went out hard. Adams slipped back a little after the first mile and Gardner built a little gap on Hamilton at the start of the third. Then it was a matter of whether Gardner could get the course record, which was a 15:01 by Matt Davis of Mead more than 15 years ago. Gardner came up 4 seconds short but is only the second runner to break 15:10.
Hamilton and Adams led NC (6-0) to a 23-36 win over the Panthers (3-3) but CV (2-6) was never a factor.
At Seimers Farm, Brooklin Young of Mt. Spokane nipped Prep’s Taylor Cherry at the line, both finishing in 19:25, and the team race was that close, too. The Wildcats (4-2) edged the Pups 26-29. Hunter Johnson’s win in 15:45 led the Wildcats (4-2) to the boys win.
At Seven Mile, University (6-0) prepped for its 3A showdown with NC (6-0) next week by getting the fourth through seventh runners for a 23-34 win over Ferris (4-2). Jon Smith won for the Titans in 15:39. On the girls side, Ferris (3-3) edged University (1-5) 26-29 but Anna Truong of Rogers (0-8) won the race in 20:48.
It was record-breaking time at Manito Park. Shadle Park’s Kendra Weitz and Katie Morris finished together in 19:14 and Lewis and Clark’s Kenji Biering won the boys race in 15:57, both times establishing records for the 5k course. The Highlander (4-2) girls beat the Tigers (2-4) 22-37. The Tigers (4-2) easily beat the Highlanders (2-4) in the boys, 19-44.
Great Northern: At East Valley, Cody Edwards (17:12) and Jaren Novackovich (17:23) gave the Knights a 1-2 finish but Cheney and West Valley got two wins in the four-team meet that included Pullman. However, Cheney edged WV 25-30. On the girls side, Cheney won big, led by Annie Zachman (21:14).