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Falcons spring into season with jamboree at South Whidbey High
Transitions didn’t go as smoothly as South Whidbey track and field head coach Doug Fulton wanted.
Then again, neither did some of the races and events.
That’s what jamborees are for, Fulton said, after Thursday’s inaugural event of the track season at South Whidbey High School. The track and field tune-up allowed Fulton to prepare his athletes for hosting future meets and a competitive season.
Fulton’s team is a mix of veteran track and field athletes, underclassmen and first-time track and field upperclassmen, and the veterans led the way on Thursday. Sophomore thrower Angelina Berger won the discus with a toss of 93 feet, 1 inch. The mark was 6 feet, 6 inches off her personal record, and a better start to the season than last year, when she threw the discus 72 feet, 3 inches in her first South Whidbey meet.
Berger also won third place in the shot put, with a throw of 32 feet, 1.25 inches. Her shot put personal record is 32 feet, 3.75 inches.
Fellow thrower Kelsey Engstrom was close behind Berger.
Engstrom, a Falcon senior, finished fourth in the shot put with 29 feet, 10.5 inches, and fourth in the discus at 78 feet, 1 inch.
South Whidbey senior and state champion Will Hallberg was the only other Falcon to win an event. Hallberg won the triple jump with a mark of 46 feet, 3 inches.
Last season, he set his triple jump personal record at 46 feet, 7.5 inches.
He said this season’s goal is to break 50 feet. Hallberg said he was glad to compete again.
“It feels good,” Hallberg said. “I feel really fast, but I was having troubles getting my steps right.”
Hallberg also placed second in the long jump, with 20 feet, 3.5 inches.
The expectation is for Hallberg to return to the state championship meet and place in the top three. Even though he said he is aware of that expectation, it doesn’t bother him.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure,” Hallberg said. “It’s all fun for me.”
Bailey Auburn missed first place in the long jump by three inches. Auburn, a South Whidbey junior, finished in second place in the long jump with 13 feet, 4 inches.
The veteran girls team won points in the distance events. A handful of the girls cross country team runners also run distance races during track and field.
Falcon sophomore Lillianna Stelling is the top girls distance runner, and she proved it at the jamboree. Stelling won third place in the 1,600 meter in 5 minutes, 45.3 seconds, despite running with her shoes untied.
She said she ran the third lap like the final lap and used too much energy too soon. She set last season’s personal record at 5 minutes, 27.23 seconds.
“I was nervous for it [the 1,600],” Stelling said. “Because it’s been a long time since track season, and I know those jitters before a track meet.”
Stelling was also part of the 1,600-meter relay team that took second place. Fellow sophomore and distance runner Nora Felt was a member of the 1,600-meter relay. Felt celebrated her 16th birthday at Waterman Field during a cloudy, 45-degree day. She ran the 800-meter race in 2 minutes, 42.5 seconds.
“I felt really good,” Felt said. “I was only two seconds off last year’s end-year [personal record].”
Last season, Felt set her personal record in the 800 meter with 2 minutes, 40.6 seconds at the District 1 meet. Felt ran cross country earlier this season, too, and said the events require different approaches.
“It’s a different kind of running, like different intensity and just different racing methods,” Felt said. “So for me, the 800 is actually easier, because I think that I have more of a middle distance method to running.”
Two newcomers made an impression at the jamboree. Falcon freshman Nick French threw the javelin 117 feet, 9 inches for fifth place in his first high school track and field meet.
First-year track athlete and senior Ben Saari ran the mile and the 1,600-meter relay. Saari signed up for track and field after failing to qualify for the state cross country meet by 17 seconds. He ran his first competitive mile in 4 minutes, 52.1 seconds, and said his goal is to finish around 4 minutes, 30 seconds.
“My legs were just sluggish,” Saari said. “I didn’t feel bad, really, so I think I’ll drop the time a lot.”
He also plans to run the 3,200-meter race and said his goal is to have a time close to 10 minutes. In both events, his overall goal is to qualify for the state championships.