16 South Whidbey runners record PRs at North County Invite

Lillianna Stelling sprints toward the finish to pass a duo of racers from Stanwood. Stelling finished 10th in the sophomore class race in 20 minutes, 45 seconds.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Lillianna Stelling sprints toward the finish to pass a duo of racers from Stanwood. Stelling finished 10th in the sophomore class race in 20 minutes, 45 seconds.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

The organizers claimed the 5,000-meter course was fast.

Turns out, they were right.

South Whidbey cross country runners piled up 16 personal records on the race route at Cedarcrest Golf Course during this week’s North County Invite. South Whidbey had 25 athletes compete in the race.

The Falcon girls team finished sixth behind three 3A/4A schools and Cascade Conference rivals Cedarcrest and Lakewood. South Whidbey girls cross country is ranked ninth in the state for 2A schools.

“I’m really proud of our team,” said Chantal White, a captain on the South Whidbey team. “Everyone’s really progressing.”

White finished 10th in the senior girls race. White was excited because she thought she was under 20 minutes, but officially finished in 20 minutes, 0.34 seconds.

“That’s been my goal since freshmen year,” White said.

“My team cheering on the sidelines helped a lot,” she added.

She cut 49 seconds off her time from last year’s race at the invite. As a senior, White has at least one more cross country race at the Cascade Conference Championships at Lakewood High School.

“That’s what motivates me to go faster,” White said, “It’s like, this is your last chance. You don’t have many races left.”

Emily Martin finished in 11th place for the Falcons, just behind teammate White in 20 minutes, 22.35 seconds. Martin ran her best 5K time in two seasons, and was thrilled to return to form.

“It felt like a really strong race for me,” Martin said. “For this season I’ve been running slow, off times.”

Earlier in the season Martin was diagnosed with asthma after she experienced difficulty breathing. Since then the inhaler she keeps with her has improved her times closer to where she hoped to be by her senior season.

“Breathing helps running,” Martin said.

“I’ve just been kind of frustrated with times, and now I’m finally back into everything and it feels good.”

In Martin’s sophomore year in 2008, she ran six 5,000-meter races under 21 minutes, including her career best time of 20 minutes, 6.62 seconds. After the race, Martin was pleased with her performance.

“It feels good to be back at the pace I was before,” Martin said.

After last Saturday’s Hole in the Wall Invite at Lakewood, the girls team dropped from sixth in the rankings down three spots. But the number doesn’t matter much to South Whidbey runners.

“In all honesty, I don’t pay attention to those rankings,” White said. “They’re really inaccurate. I don’t feel that’s a good way to evaluate the way our team is doing.”

South Whidbey’s Madi Boyd finished 10th in the freshmen race in 21 minutes, 15 seconds. Lillianna Stelling finished 10th in the sophomore race in 20 minutes, 45 seconds.

Stanwood High School runner Minna Fields won the girls race in 18 minutes, 28.42 seconds. Fields finished 31 seconds before Cascade Conference rival Cara Strodel who finished in second place.

Coupeville High School runner Tyler King won the boys race in 15 minutes, 24.81 seconds. King finished 34 seconds before second- place finisher Connor Ballew of Archbishop Murphy High School.

Martin explained the Falcons’ attention now turns toward the conference championship.

To be successful, Martin wants to run as a pack to keep pace.

“I definitely have a lot of confidence in this team,” Martin said.

She said the team needs to focus and eat right three days before the meet, not just the night before. Her mom Sharon will help. She makes “orbs of power” — a peanut butter-based ball — before the meets.

Senior Ben Saari finished in 17 minutes, 35.73 seconds — good for 22nd place and a personal record.

Each boys race had close to 100 runners competing. On the last 50 meters, Saari hit his kick and sprinted past a pair of runners.

“I shouldn’t have that much left,” Saari said. “I can tell I should have run harder in the beginning.”

None of the South Whidbey boys runners broke the top 10 in any of the four races.

Other South Whidbey runners who set personal records include seniors Rain Ellis and Michael Grimm; juniors Will Mellish, Will Zink and Brenna Parrick; sophomores Max Corell, Jhamil Bader-Jarvis, Nora Felt, Kelsey Hardaway and Bonnie Klamm; and freshmen Gavin Imes, Kyrel Broyles, Madi Boyd and Caitlyn Workman.

South Whidbey’s regular season is over and the team will prepare for the Cascade Conference Championship meet at Lakewood on Saturday, Oct. 23. It’s a dual meet with the WESCO and Cascade conferences.

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