Distance runners pace Falcons in track regular season finale

Falcon freshman Samantha Baldwin misses clearing the high jump bar during the track and field meet at South Whidbey High School on Thursday.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Falcon freshman Samantha Baldwin misses clearing the high jump bar during the track and field meet at South Whidbey High School on Thursday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

LANGLEY — Thanks to a handful of multiple event winners, the Falcon girls track and field team won its first, and last, Cascade Conference meet of the season Thursday.

South Whidbey cruised past Granite Falls and Coupeville, a 1A school and an island-rival with 71.5 points. On the final meet of the year for the Falcons, an unofficial Senior Day occurred when senior Sarah Cepowski won the 200-meter race. Cepowski, a team co-captain and four year track athlete, ran her fastest 200 and narrowly missed her personal record with a time of 29.41 seconds, just .20 seconds shy of a new best time. The senior edged out five over racers for the victory, and she also placed third in the 100-meter sprint out of 12 racers.

On the boys team, which finished second behind Granite Falls,  distance runner Will Zink won the mile. Zink finished in 5 minutes, 5.14 seconds to edge Coupeville freshman Matthew Hampton by one second. The Falcon senior missed his career-best time by two seconds.

“It was not a PR, but I finished first so I felt good,” Zink said. “I was consistent through the first 400, and the second 400, the third and the fourth. It felt good all around. It was a good finish because I definitely had enough to pick it up on the last 300 (meters).”

Running distance events runs in the family for the Zinks. Cole Zink, Will’s freshman brother, won the 800-meter and 3,200-meter races. Despite one of his worst times in the two-mile, Cole Zink handily won the short-fielded events. Only two other athletes ran the 800, and only one other in the 3,200. Zink’s older brother spoke glowingly about the future of Falcon track and field as long as Cole continues to improve.

“I’m pretty much spent on track. I may run in conference just for kicks and grins. I’m mostly here for Cole,” said Will Zink. “I’m excited for him. I think he’s going to do big stuff.”

The boys team excelled in the throwing events. State-caliber javelin thrower Nick French won with his second-shortest mark of the season at 152 feet, 2 inches. Falcon senior Colton Justus placed third with 124 feet, 10 inches in the javelin and won the shot put with a personal record throw of 40 feet, 1 inch.

Throwing was also a bright spot for the Falcon girls team. Angelina Berger won the shot put and discus and finished second in the javelin. Berger, a junior and a state-caliber thrower in all three events, placed first in the discus with a mark of 91 feet, 5 inches, several feet short of her personal best. Her distance in the shot put of 34 feet, 11.5 inches, was also well shy of her average marks. It may have been her shoes, designed to help her grip in the throwing circle for both events, which she had only purchased two days earlier. Throwing the javelin in a deluge of rain was equally difficult for Berger, who missed two attempts on out of bounds throws. Her final mark was 91 feet, 4 inches, more than 20 feet under her best throw of the season.

“It was the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I hope I never do it again,” Berger said.

“It’s raining, I’d like to blame it on that. . . I don’t have cleats on. I was scared of slipping.”

The Falcon girls team was also anchored by its distance runners. A string of juniors cruised from the 400-meter up to the two-mile races. Anna Hood and Nora Felt finished first and second in the 400, despite rarely running the event (it was Felt’s first of the year). Felt had a quick recovery before racing in her primary event, the 800 meter, which she placed third in behind teammates Jaime Rodden and Madi Boyd, both sophomores. Rodden improved her personal best time by three seconds to 2 minutes, 34.71 seconds, and Boyd had her best time of the season at 2 minutes, 38.64 seconds.

In the long distance races, juniors Lillianna Stelling and Bonnie Klamm claimed first and second place. Stelling won both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, and was .4 seconds off her season-best time in the mile.

"It felt pretty good,” Stelling said. “I think on the second lap I always tend to slow down a little bit.”

Klamm, a first-year track runner, was a ways off her personal best times. Being ill for a week can have that affect on runners. The junior missed the previous week of practices while she was sick, and admitted the recovery was a bit slow.

“I didn’t PR, but I’ve been sick for a while, so it’s good to get a time close to it,” said Klamm, who added she had no expectations heading into the Cascade Conference championships next week.

“I always hope to do well, but it’s my first time doing track, so I don’t know what to expect.”

South Whidbey travels to Duvall to compete in the Cascade Conference Championship meet Wednesday, May 9. The top eight finishers in running events from the first day advance to the second day finals Friday, May 11.

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