Falcon girls repeat as state relay champs

The 2008 state track champions in the 800-meter relay are McKenzie Walker, Gwen Bakke, Laurie Robinson and Lauren Sandri for the second year. The girls finished in a school-record time of 1 minute, 44.97 seconds Saturday in Tacoma. - Jeff VanDerford / The Record
The 2008 state track champions in the 800-meter relay are McKenzie Walker, Gwen Bakke, Laurie Robinson and Lauren Sandri for the second year. The girls finished in a school-record time of 1 minute, 44.97 seconds Saturday in Tacoma.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford / The Record

TACOMA — Winning once was absolutely awesome.

Taking the title twice? No comparison.

The South Whidbey girls

800-meter relay team — the quick quartet of Gwen Bakke, McKenzie Walker, Laurie Robinson and Lauren Sandri — trounced Burlington-Edison on Saturday to win their second state track title.

The girls won with a school-record time of 1 minute, 44.97 seconds.

Held at Mount Tahoma High School, the track finals brought together the best 2A athletes from 41 high schools around the state; 13 Falcons represented South Whidbey.

This was freshman Robinson’s first time at state.

“I wasn’t expecting the huge crowds and all the pressure,” she said. “But we practiced our hand-offs all week and it came together for us.”

Ranked first in the state going in, the four girls were in second place rounding the final curve when Sandri got the baton from Robinson. Sandri battled down the home stretch and beat Burlington-Edison’s girls by the slightest of margins.

It was a sweet victory. Burlington-Edison is a traditional Falcon nemesis and their girls won the overall team champion crown.

“We knew Lauren would catch her,” Walker said. “She always does.”

Sandri placed third in the 100-meter dash in 12.38; Walker was seventh in 12.62. The two sprinters were also third and seventh in the 200-meter dash with 25.90 and 26.49, respectively.

Sandri was happy with her performance but, recognizing that this is her fourth year at state, admitted she’s going to miss it all — especially her teammates.

“I’m in denial, sort of a daze that this is my last time,” she said.

Competition was stiffer in the 400-meter relay; the same four Lady Falcons placed fifth with a time of 50.47.

Cayla Calderwood placed second in the triple jump with 35 feet, 11.5 inches and eighth in the long jump with 15-10.5.

Calderwood was leading in the triple right up to the last jump when Elma’s Brandi Thomas passed her by less than an inch.

“She beat me and I’m a little frustrated but her jump was farther,” Calderwood said. She had been plagued all day by a back injury, competing in the jumps and javelin in pain.

“By the end of the day, I couldn’t even bend over,” she said.

The girls team placed third overall with 41.5 points, behind Burlington-Edison with 50.5 points and Sehome with 42.

There were light moments early in the state meet when things started to go the Falcons’ way.

In her 200-meter heat, Walker grinned all the way across the finish line as she realized she’d placed second.

“I didn’t expect that but I’ll take it,” she said. “It’s a little weird running so early in the morning.”

Coach Mark Eager told the girls to take a serious break before their next event.

“You have to be militant in your pacing,” he said. “Rest and do a gentle warm-up.”

Later, Eager helped Calderwood deal with the simultaneous scheduling of the high and triple jump.

As she signed in and prepared for her first jump, Calderwood kept casting anxious glances across the field, where the high jumpers were doing their thing. Despite the worries, Calderwood focused on her triple and missed first place by a hair.

The Falcon boys — Chandler Thompson, Jon Poolman, Eric Stallman and Hisashi Sanda — placed fourth in the 400-meter relay in 43.82.

Andy Bennett triple jumped 41 feet, 10.75 inches for the seventh spot.

On Friday, the boys 400 relay team surprised themselves by placing first in their heat with 44.12 and a spot in the final run the next day.

“That was fast,” Stallman said. “We did what we needed to do. Coach [Mark] Eager told us we weren’t ranked for finals and we had to lay it on the line if we wanted to qualify.”

Thompson said the hand-off between the boys was focused and smooth but the competition was intense.

“We were all hyped up,” Poolman noted. “It was a good day to run.”

Overall, the South Whidbey boys track team placed 30 of 39 schools with seven points.

Falcon coach Doug Fulton said both teams performed well.

“I’m not losing many kids to graduation, there are quality juniors and sophomores moving up and there are some great middle school kids in the pipeline,” he said.

“We’ll be back in force next year. Life is good.”

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