PASCO – The Northeast A League had the most success of Inland Northwest schools at state cross country meets.
The Medical Lake boys and Lakeside girls captured State 1A championships at the deceptively challenging Sun Willows Golf Course on Saturday.
Medical Lake won without a senior as the Cardinals finished with 72 points, topping runner-up La Center by 40 points.
Lakeside, which won two years ago, tripped up defending champion Riverside. The Eagles posted 51 points to the Rams’ 84.
Leading Medical Lake was junior Domenic Rehm, who took seventh in 16 minutes, 24.6 seconds. Junior teammates Micah Dingfield (16:39.7) and Tim Chernishoff (16:44.7) placed 12th and 16th overall.
The top 16 in each race earned medals.
Medical Lake was ranked No. 1 all season after placing third a year ago.
“We scored it and we figured we were going to win,” Medical Lake coach Gene Blankenship said. “But a week and a half ago, our No. 1 runner (Dingfield) came down with a very sore foot. He finished second (Saturday). We’ve always stressed we’re a team. Our sixth and seventh runners just stepped up like crazy. We’ve been running pretty weak all year long at sixth and seventh and were really solid through five. So I can’t say enough about them.”
It was Medical Lake’s first state title in the sport.
“We’re a pack,” Blankenship said. “And we’re solid. We ran five juniors, a freshman and a sophomore. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
Rehm said the hard work paid off.
“We’ve worked so hard for this,” Rehm said. “It’s great to finally get it.
“As a team we have an incredible bond. We love running together,” he added.
Senior Ryan Coffman of Lakeside (16:12.2) took third and teammate JT Lauderdale, a senior, was ninth (16:27.0).
In the girls, Lakeside was led by juniors Jessica Ircink (19:14.0) in sixth and Lindy Jacobson (19:19.7), who was seventh.
Ircink moved in this year from Okinawa, Japan, after her military father retired.”
Jacobson was the team leader most of the season until the final two races.
“We’ve been working on closing the time gaps with each other,” Jacobson said. “(Jessica’s) come a long way this year. She’s been such a great addition and pushed me all year.”
Jacobson was part of the title team as a freshman.
“Last year we were ranked first all season and we got beat out by Riverside,” Jacobson said. “This year we just went for it.”
2A: A pair of East Valley juniors, Chad Stevens and Scott Kopczynski, finished second and fourth to lead the Knights.
Stevens crossed in 15:38.16 and Kopczynski in 15:46.06.
“I didn’t even qualify for state last year,” Stevens said. “I was 79th as a freshman. Last year was a season of sacrifice. My freshman year I didn’t really train. Last year I decided to really train and that was my break-through point. I had to sacrifice last year to do this. Scott really pulled me through this season. He kept putting in my head that I could do this.”
Kopczynski’s goal was to win.
“The first mile, I’m not a kicker, I was hoping for 4:50, and it was 5:03,” Kopczynski said. “It was too slow. So it’s bittersweet. It’s better than I did last year (12th).”
West Valley junior Skylar Ovnicek (16:04.34) was 10th, Colville senior Kevin Carpenter (16:04.34) took 11th and Cheney senior Kyle Lerch (16:14.51) was 14th.
Sehome won the title. EV took seventh.
In the girls, Sehome also won and Deer Park was 10th.
Junior McCall Skay of WV placed third (18:38.45) and EV sophomore Brittany Aquino (18:51.05) was seventh.
Skay has progressively improved each year.
“I had a good race,” she said. “I’m really excited for next year.”