Threepeat times 2

(Top) Freshman Becky Gabelein glides over a hurdle early in her 300-meter race. She finished second with a time of 49.57 seconds. (Below) Part of a successful Falcon throwing crew, Jordan Tobler tosses the shot put for sixth place. - Matt Johnson
(Top) Freshman Becky Gabelein glides over a hurdle early in her 300-meter race. She finished second with a time of 49.57 seconds. (Below) Part of a successful Falcon throwing crew, Jordan Tobler tosses the shot put for sixth place.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

A little bit of everything happened at the track meet Friday.

Though important, the fact that the South Whidbey boys and girls won their third consecutive North Cascades Conference titles was probably the least interesting occurrence, since everyone expected that. It was the other stuff that made the event interesting.

There were slipping blocks, second chances, disqualifications and broken records. On top of that, Falcon hurdlers and throwers were the athletes who made the difference in the final score, not so much the team's talented but small distance running squad, which has carried the team for the past five years.

No, Friday at the track was anything but usual. Nick Plastino will attest to that.

Competing in the first sprint of the day, the 100-meter dash, Plastino, a South Whidbey sophomore favored to win the event, fell on his face at the start of his race when his starting blocks slipped off the track and shot backwards. Even as he was getting to his feet to lope across the finish line for a distant eighth place, his coach, Doug Fulton, and meet officials were reaching for their rule books.

Their conclusion: The race had to be run again. So at 9:45 p.m., after every other event was over, Plastino and seven other sprinters ran the race as it should have been. This time, he won.

"I wanted to show running it again was worth it," he said.

But it took more than Plastino's moral victory in the 100 for the Falcon boys to beat their closest rival, Mount Baker. Piling on points was junior Brandon Bilyeu, who ran to tactical victories in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, and boosted the boys 4x400 team -- along with Joe Candelario, Andy Wills and Plastino -- to the second fastest victory in North Cascades history.

Then, there were the records. Plastino grabbed the first one in Thursday's 200 dash preliminaries, overtaking teammate Wills' 2001 record with a 22.62 run. He later went on to place second in the event. In the 4x100, Plastino, Wills, Candelario and Andy Taylor took down both the NCC meet record and the South Whidbey school record, winning the event in 43.75 seconds.

Other great performances came from senior Brandon Hern, who took fourth in the shot put and second in the discus, Kyle McGillen in the long and high jumps, Tim Gathings in the triple jump, and sophomore James Sundquist in the 3,200.

McGillen, Schwager power girls

Were it written as a fairy tale, the story of the Falcon girls' NCC victory over Mount Baker might be titled "The Sprite and the Iron Lady." Katy McGillen and Karen Schwager would star as the main characters.

Dashing from one event to the next almost as quickly as any sprinter on the track, sophomore McGillen handled a full plate of events better than a pro. A winner in the 100 hurdles and the high jump and runner-up in the long jump and javelin, she grabbed more individual points than any other South Whidbey athlete. Her 16.01 run in the hurdles inspired a near sweep of the top places as her teammates locked up third, fourth and fifth places.

Schwager helped pace her team in the longer events. She pulled off the most demanding trio of endurance events in high school track by taking second place in the 800 and taking third in the 1,600 and 3,200, then ran a leg of a 4x400 relay that would have placed third but for a uniform violation that disqualified the team.

In the shorter events, sophomore Claudia Gil-Osorio was a winner in the 100 and one fourth of the winning 4x100 team. Freshman Becky Gabelein was another standout, taking second place in the 300 hurdles.

Adding to the team's success in the throws was freshman Kimery Hern, who was fourth in the event and third in the discus.

Jumpers other than McGillen also placed well. Kelly Horn recovered from a disqualification in the triple jump to tie Falcon Caitlin Robinson for a 4-foot, 8-inch fourth place finish in the high jump, while Melissa Mast came through with a huge improvement on past performances in the triple to place fourth.

The high placings in the boys and girls meets get both South Whidbey's track teams to Friday's district meet at Sultan High School with a contingent large enough to take that championship as well. Events begin at 5 p.m.

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