"Falcons girl runners second at bi-district, head to state"

"Senior Lisa Depender escaped from the field of runners Friday to take fourth at the bi-district.Matt Johnson, staff photoDoug Fulton looked worried Friday afternoon. Walking, running, and sometimes sprinting back and fourth across the 2A Bi-District championship cross country course at Mount Vernon's Skagit Valley College campus, the South Whidbey girls cross country coach was looking for something. He was looking for red and black and blue and white.After watching his team place second behind Mount Baker's red-and-black clad runners at the previous week's North Cascades Conference championships, Fulton charged his runners with the responsibility of beating as many Borderites as they could see.His orders accomplished at least part of what he had hoped. Mount Baker won the race, but the Falcons pulled to a much-closer second place than they earned the previous week. Five of the seven Falcons running had career races, and the team qualified for Saturday's state meet in Pasco. Fulton said he could not have hoped for much more. It was our best team effort of the season and we will be even sharper this week at state, Fulton said. Our goal is still a top 4 finish (at state).As she has done for the past two seasons, Lisa Depender led her team. But, in a race boasting nearly 70 runners, Depender wound up curiously alone for most of her 20 minute, 4 second run. One mile into the race, she found herself all alone in fourth place -- really alone, with not a single runner in her line of sight in front or behind. She held her position, and by race's end, her nearest competitors were 30 seconds in front or behind her.A few places back, the race began to bunch up. Sophomore Julie Gabelein did not get the same, unhurried finish Depender did. Clumped in with teammate Sarah DeGraff and Mount Baker's Miwa Krishnek, Gabelein sprinted the last quarter mile of the race to edge both girls for ninth place. DeGraff was 11th behind Krishnek. Together most of the race, Gabelein and DeGraff had career races, with each cutting more than 16 seconds off their best times.Also following coach's orders, freshman Malaena Hymas zeroed in on the Mountaineers' red and black uniforms. Although she did not beat many to the line, the simple act of chasing pushed her to slash 27 seconds from her time the previous week. She placed 14th overall. Sophomore Karen Schwager was the final scorer for South Whidbey, crossing the line in 19th place. Behind her, junior Kirsten Smethurst and Courtney Hatt pushed their way through the pack as each runner ran faster than the week before.The Falcons run their final race Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The race begins at 10:30 a.m. "

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