Sports

No runner stumbles this year for South Whidbey

Assistant jumper coach Mark Eager demonstrates the fine art of lifting ones knees to members of the South Whidbey track team. They get their chance to show what they’ve learned at 3:45 p.m. March 16. - Jeff VanDerford
Assistant jumper coach Mark Eager demonstrates the fine art of lifting ones knees to members of the South Whidbey track team. They get their chance to show what they’ve learned at 3:45 p.m. March 16.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

On track Coach Doug Fulton’s crowded desk at South Whidbey High School there are exams to be graded, science experiments to be organized, that day’s attendance sheets and the latest issue of Runner’s World.

After 15 years teaching and coaching, Fulton fully admits running is in his blood.

“I always wanted to teach and I still run with the kids, but can no longer keep up with the fastest boys,” he said ruefully.

On any given meet day (the first is March 16), Waterman Field is a busy place with simultaneous action everywhere one looks.

Boys and girls teams are divided into running, jumping and throwing events: Sprints include the 100/200/400 meter runs, 100/110/300 meter hurdles, 400/800/1600 meter relays plus middle distance events at 800/1600/3200 meters. Jumping competitions include the long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault. The throwers have their choice of discus, shot and javelin.

There are 66 students signed up for track and field this season; each can participate in a maximum of four events.

Fulton points to the school’s tradition of excellence. The boys were Cascade League champions from 2000 to 2004 (and took the state title in 2004) and were District 1 champs in 2003 and 2004. The girls have placed no worse than sixth since the century turned.

But Fulton can’t do it all and credits his volunteer coaching staff.

“If it weren’t for the volunteer coaches we’d be up a creek without a paddle,” he said. “They give our kids the attention and instruction they need to be successful.”

Among them are the school’s former 800-meter record holder Dean Hatt and 110-meter high hurdles record holder Chad Felgar, who is coaching the young man hoping to break it — Jason Fitts.

Craig Stelling is a former Falcon javelin thrower and All-Amer-

ican at Pacific Lutheran University. Mark Cook is guiding the long distance runners, while Mark Eager is doing the same for sprinters, Jeff Green for throwers.

Fulton believes his star athletes will make all the difference, individually and for the team.

“We have some of the top girl’s sprinters in the state,” he said.

Katie Gordon in the 3200 meter and Mary Bakeman in the 1600 and 3200 meter are the top two female distance runners, followed by Katherine East, Lauren Sandri, Sarah Olson and Hope Richards. Emma Ruggiero hopes to challenge records in the discus.

For the boys, JD Peters in the 400 and 3200 meter run, shotputter Todd Berry, sprinter Marco Plastino and pole vaulter Matt Long are the fellows to watch.

“The rest of our team are young athletes developing their skill levels under some very fine coaches. There may be some surprise performances as the season progresses,” Fulton said.

Runners and throwers get their first test starting at 3:45 p.m. March 16 as the school hosts a district Jamboree.

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