Track teams are sports in Pasco

Candelario -
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On a windy Saturday way out east in Pasco, South Whidbey track athletes showed that spring break didn't take away their edge.

At one of the state's most exclusive annual track meets, last weekend's Pasco Invitational, a handful of Falcons had to give everything they had to stay close to the competition. Running, jumping and throwing against the best athletes from more than 40 teams in both Washington and Oregon, the Falcon boys and girls didn't score many points, but notched some of their better performances this season.

Only a few members of South Whidbey's boys and girls teams made the qualifying standards for the meet, which are the most selective of the season, save those at the state meet. But what they lacked in numbers, they made up for in good breeding. The team won the meet's Don Monson team sportsmanship award, something that encouraged Falcon coach Doug Fulton as much as any athletic performance during the meet. He said his athletes are always expected to be courteous both to the competition and to officials.

"It pays off, I guess," he said.

The boys had the best day on the track, both in terms of a team placing and individual results. They scored 14 points to place 16th behind team champion Mead. Having the best day was junior Brandon Bilyeu, who ran to a personal best time of 1:57.95 in the 800 meters to place third, and to a 4:26.12 personal record in the 1,600.

Buffeted by winds gusting up to 40 mph, the South Whidbey sprinters still had a good day. Sophomore Nick Plastino made respectable showings in both the 100-meter race and the 300 hurdles, even though he had to run into the wind on the backstretch. With a few more meters to run, senior Joe Candelario picked up the second individual scoring place of the day in the 400. He placed seventh in a time of 50.91 seconds -- one of his best runs of the year, wind notwithstanding.

In the relays, the boys prospered. With junior Andy Wills fully recovered from a hamstring injury, the Falcon 4x400 team of Wills, Plastino, Bilyeu and Candelario ran the second-fastest time in team history. Only last year's state championship performance in the event overshadows the 3:23.93 third-place finish the team grabbed Saturday.

In 4x100, Plastino, Adam Tenuta, Candelario and Wills placed 11th.

On the girls side, the only story in terms of point scoring was Karen Schwager. The Falcon senior distance runner had to run a personal best time of 5:22.33 to take eighth place and score the team's only point on the day.

But other South Whidbey girls stayed in the hunt. Freshman Becky Gabelein made top 20 in the 300 hurdles and top 30 in the 100 hurdles, while her classmate, Kimery Hern, was 23rd in the discus in her first appearance in Pasco. Her toss placed her 11 spots higher inthe girls meet than a 121-6 discus throw by her senior brother, Brandon, in the boys event.

Also dashing in the wind and swirling sand of Pasco were Lindsay Binford in the 200 and Claudia Gil-Osorio in the 100.

In relay action, the girls had trouble staying close to the fastest teams. Veterans Binford and Melissa Poolman, along with Gil-Osorio and Nicole Mock, ran solid races, but found themselves 3 seconds out of the lead in the 4x100 relay and almost 10 seconds out in the 4x200 behind the team from Benson.

In the team competition, the Benson girls won the meet with 66 points, while Mead High School's 55 were enough to take the boys meet.

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