South Whidbey boy runners third at state

"BOX SCOREWashington State 2A Cross Country Championship, Sun Willows Golf Course, Pasco: 3.1 milesTeams: Omak 71, East Valley (Yakima) 74, South Whidbey 124, Riverside 132, Naches 184 (16 teams total)Individuals: 1. Matt Harriman (Omak) 15:29; 2. Hendrik Kok (Lynden Christian) 15:51; 5. Braden Giswold 16:04; 10. Brett Perkins 16:20; 13. Bruce Hymas16:33; 29. Joe Candelario 16:52; 103. Brandon Bilyeu 18:01; 104. Ryan Aragon 18:03; 121. Brandon Turner 18:26 (127 total runners)Pictured: Joe Candelario runs one of his best races of the year. Photo by Briony Morrow-CribbsFor much of this year’s cross country season, South Whidbey’s boy runners summed up who they were on the backs of their t-shirts.Printed above a large bulls-eye, the shirts read “Yeah, we know.”It was not until Saturday, when the boys ran in the Washington State Cross Country Championship in Pasco that they really started to feel like the targets they knew they were when an early-season coaches’ poll ranked them as the top 2A program in the state. But even with the pressure on during the 3.1 mile stampede that is the state meet, the runners did exactly what their coach thought they would when the raced well enough to earn third place.“That’s pretty much where I had them figured at the beginning of the season,” said coach Tim Gordon.The finish was the best ever for the Falcons, and is matched only by a third place state performance by a Langley High School team in 1979. After running as only a trio last year, the Falcons’ Killer Bs -- Braden Giswold, Brett Perkins, and Bruce Hymas -- welcomed the company of their teammates in this year’s race. They again spearheaded the Falcon effort, taking fifth, 10th, and 13th places. Perkins had the standout run of the three, hitting his best stride of the year just in time to register his state best in this year’s race.But to find the run of the day, Falcon fans had to look just behind the killer trio. Sandwiched between the top 25 and the rest of the 127-runner pack, sophomore Joe Candelario found himself with a choice to make with a half mile to go. On form after an up-and-down season, Candelario made a strong start with the leaders, but found himself running out of gas as the end game heated up. When several runners zipped by him with 800 meters to go, Candelario said he had to make a conscious choice to really start racing.“I just said ‘I gotta go,’” Candelario said.The self encouragement worked, and Candelario took back the places he lost and then some on his way to a personal-best time and 29th place overall.Backing the top-four Falcons were freshmen Brandon Bilyeu, Ryan Aragon, and Brandon Turner. Coach Gordon said the three had some of the best freshman races of any running in the pack that day. Bilyeu and Aragon finished almost side-by-side in 103rd and 104th places, while Turner snagged a respectable 121st place.Gordon, who was named this year’s boys coach of the year for the North Cascades League, said he expects his team to go back to Pasco next year as a hands-down favorite. No senior runners will graduate from the Falcons’ varsity line up this year.Giswold will run again Sunday at the Nike-sponsored Washington/Oregon Border Race in Beaverton, Ore. thanks to his top-five placing."

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