Sports

Falcons cruise at Marysville

James Sundquist, Joe Candelario, and Brandon Bilyeu run together at a home meet earlier this season. The three Falcons placed high in sophomore, junior, and senior races at the North County Invitational at Marysville Thursday. - Matt Johnson
James Sundquist, Joe Candelario, and Brandon Bilyeu run together at a home meet earlier this season. The three Falcons placed high in sophomore, junior, and senior races at the North County Invitational at Marysville Thursday.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

When autumn temperatures drop into the 50s and the late-season courses flatten out, there is nothing like being a cross country runner.

Striding over wide-open fields and stretches of pavement at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Thursday afternoon, South Whidbey High School runners nailed their fastest races of the year on a 3.04-mile course that can only serve as a confidence booster going into Friday’s conference championship meet.

Though separated from one another in a class-segregated race format, the girl and boy Falcons knew they would be fast based on experience from past years at the M-P’s North County Invitational. Team coach Doug Fulton said he was ready to hit his watch’s stop button sooner than usual for most of his runners.

“It’s a fast course. Flat as a pancake,” he said.

In the girls races, senior Karen Schwager and freshman Becky Gabelein set the pace, taking second place in their respective races. Schwager ran the the third fastest time of the day for all runners at the meet.

Also placing well were sophomore Callie Supsinskas, who was sixth in her race, and junior Julie Gabelein, who took third in her race as one of three Falcons to run the course in less than 20 minutes.

Leading the boys was James Sundquist. He quietly glided to third place in the sophomore race, running 12 seconds faster than his team’s number-two runner, senior Joe Candelario. Third for the Falcons was junior Brandon Bilyeu, who took ninth place in the juniors race even as he was shadowed to the line by teammate and 10th-place finisher Nathan Chambers. Also running well were third-place freshman finisher Holton Schmitt, eighth place sophomore finisher Jeff Strong, and sophomore Phil Schorr, whose time of 19:33 was a big improvement over his previous best.

In the team competition, the Falcon girls placed third, while the boys were fourth.

On Friday, the Falcons start their post season at the North Cascades Conference Championship at the Skagit Valley College campus in Mount Vernon. Racing begins at 3:30 p.m.

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