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Boys quiet, confident
Spend a little time running with the boys at South Whidbey High School and you'll notice a couple things.
First, they are fast, so good luck keeping up. At the same time, they are a quiet bunch, exchanging fewer and fewer words as the the pace picks up.
This quietness, it seems, has become a tradition on the team. Though ranked as one of the state's top 2A teams for the past five years, you'd scarcely know it to hear these runners talk -- or not talk.
Coming into the 2002 season as the state's fourth-best boys cross country team behind Mount Baker and Ephrata, it almost seems that in their silence, the Falcons are sneaking up on the competition. They did it last year, placing second in the North Cascades Conference, third in the Northwest District 1 championship meet and 10th at the state meet even after graduating their top three runners the year before.
But now, with another year of running experience to their credit and damaged by only one big graduation loss -- that of state competitor Joe Candelario -- the Falcons may not be able to get away with the strong, silent-type act anymore. Led by the fast feet of senior Brandon Bilyeu and precocious junior James Sundquist, the 15 runners out for the team this year are intent on being successful.
Senior runner Jasper Hein, who is looking to be part of the varsity lineup this year along with young runners Jeff Strong, Drew Aernie and Holton Schmitt, is one of the more talkative members of the team when it comes to voicing the Falcons' goals.
"I want to have fun and succeed," he said.
Their coach, Doug Fulton, thinks this is something the team can do. On a more rigorous, total-fitness program this year, the Falcons have the personnel to be a top contender anywhere they run. Though most of the runners on the team do not have a lot of state meet experience, Fulton said he has the right mix of runners for a strong season.
"I wouldn't trade this group for anybody," he said.
As with the girls cross country team, pack running will be important to the Falcon boys. If they can keep their five scoring runners within a minute or two of one another and near the fronts of races, success will follow, Fulton said.