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Originally published Thursday, October 20, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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SPSL cross country: Kentwood junior races to boys title

It took some time, but Michael Chinchar finally seems to have this cross-country running business figured out. Chinchar, a junior at Kentwood...

Special to The Seattle Times

SPANAWAY — It took some time, but Michael Chinchar finally seems to have this cross-country running business figured out.

Chinchar, a junior at Kentwood High School, hung behind the leaders until the final 250 meters, then bolted to the front to claim the boys title yesterday in the South Puget Sound League sub-district meet at Lake Spanaway Park.

Chinchar, who placed fifth in the meet a year ago, covered 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) in 15 minutes, 49.21 seconds to edge Tahoma sophomore Jonathan Lafler by just 54-hundredths of a second. Emerald Ridge junior Hassan Mead, who swapped the lead with Lafler most of the race, was third in 15:52.40.

"I've always been a track guy, and I wasn't where I wanted to be (in cross country) until this season," Chinchar said. "I don't really like to push the pace in cross country. Fortunately, Hassan Mead and Jonathan can set a perfect pace, so I just tried to hang with them and hope I could catch them at the end."

Jefferson junior Kenna Patrick had no such suspense while bolting to her second straight girls championship in 18:53.58, nearly 14 seconds ahead of runner-up Chelsie Jorgensen of Puyallup (19:07.11).

Patrick, who missed the sub-district meet in her freshman year with a stress fracture in her shin, followed the same script that delivered her a seven-second victory last year: bolt ahead early and gradually pull away.

"It didn't really feel that easy," Patrick said. "I was expecting Chelsie and (Sumner's Katrina) Drennan to be close. I could hear them behind me the whole way."

Patrick led Jefferson to its second consecutive girls team championship. The Raiders, expected to be in a tight duel with Tahoma, placed four runners ahead of Tahoma's pace-setter and had all five of their scoring runners in the top 12 to finish with 31 points.

"I had some pretty ambitious predictions when I put it down on paper beforehand," Jefferson coach Paul Ruston said. "And they exceeded them."

Tahoma did not come away empty-handed, ending Auburn Riverside's two-year run as boys team champion with a 59-point outing fueled by Lafler's runner-up finish and senior Luke Lemenager's sixth-place showing.

The top eight teams and top 40 individuals in the boys and girls races qualified for the West Central/Southwest 4A bi-district meet Oct. 29 at American Lake Golf Course near Tacoma.

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