Young athletes make a big mark

The young blood was flowing fast at the track last week as freshmen and sophomores did the job for the Falcon boys and girls.

The young runners and jumpers accumulated 11 victories in individual events over two meets and had their hands and feet in a number of relay victories as well as the South Whidbey girls team won a quadrangular meet Thursday and and both squads placed high at last weekend's Yakima Invite.

The Yakima meet proved to be a breakout event for a number of athletes, but especially sophomore Nick Plastino and freshman Becky Gabelein. Plastino won a freshman-sophomore 400-meter event in Yakima and the 100-meter dash to establish himself as one of the team's top quarter milers and quickest dasher so far this season at 11 seconds flat.

In the girls meet, Gabelein showed versatility in beating out other underclassmen in both the 100 hurdles (17.0 seconds) and 400 meters (63.5), then placed second in the freshman 800.

In the high jump, Plastino and classmates Kyle McGillen and Travis Tornga took second, third and fourth with 5-foot, 10-inch jumps. Other top performers for the boys were Adam Tenuta, who placed second in the frosh-soph 100 meters in 11.6 seconds, and the 4x100 team of Tenuta, Plastino, McGillen and Michael Lodell, which won in the frosh-soph race.

Senior Joe Candelario was the team's top varsity performer with his 50.3 second, first-place rocket run in the 400 meters.

Bolstering the Falcon girls varsity was sophomore Katy McGillen, who won the high jump by lifting off to a 5-4 mark, and the fourth-place 4x200 relay team of Melissa Poolman, Lindsey Binford, Nichole Mock and Claudia Gil-Osorio (1:50.0).

Falcon head coach Doug Fulton said a Saturday of sun in Yakima was what his newest squad members needed to do their best work.

"The highlight was those young kids," he said.

In a four-way North Cascades Conference meet Thursday, the girls went away winners. Paced by nine event wins, including an ironwoman double victory in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs by senior Karen Schwager, the Falcons kept a two-year NCC winning streak alive by burying Sultan, Lakewood and Granite Falls under 137 team points. Other winners were Gil-Osorio in the 100, Becky Gabelein in the 100 and 300 hurdles, Binford in the 200, Kellie Horn in the high jump, and the 4x100 relay team.

Event wins were fewer in the boys meet, and the team victory slipped away 99-96 to Lakewood, even though the Falcons closed the meet with a 3:48 winning performance in the afternoon's last event, the 4x400 relay. Plastino again lent his speed to the cause, winning the 100 meters in 11.1 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 53.5. Junior sprinter Andy Wills ran farther than usual to take a rare victory -- for him -- in the 800 meters, while classmate Brandon Bilyeu came up a 4:59 winner in the 1,600. Other winners were Tornga in the high jump (5-4) and Kyle McGillen in the long jump (19-7).

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