Cross country ranked 4th

With the end of the cross country season only weeks away, the Falcon boys and girls are loading up for a fast championship run.

After placing among the top three teams at last Saturday's Hoquiam Invitational, both teams are now ranked fourth in the state by a coaches poll. That ranking is likely to improve for both teams, but perhaps more so for the boys as they run faster each week and await the return of the team's fastest runner, senior Brandon Bilyeu.

Running without Bilyeu as they have every meet this year, the boys made a good accounting for themselves by placing third in Saturday's 20-team meet. Facing strong headwinds and a hill course around Hoquiam High School, junior James Sundquist led the team with a 13th place finish, covering the 3.14-mile course in 16:43, 50 seconds slower than the race winner, Jackson's Caleb Knox.

In a tight battle with Jackson for the team championship, the gap between Sundquist and Knox was about all Jackson needed to win. Behind the Falcon junior, Falcons Jasper Hein and Holton Schmitt ran side-by-side to take 27th and 28th place. Jeff Strong and Conley White were the team's other scorers, running fast enough to keep most of the team under 18 minutes on the course. JD Peters finished four seconds behind White, while South Whidbey's seventh runner, Chris dePender, was 71st overall in 18:33.

The girls were even more successful, staying within 18 points of meet champion Jackson. Junior Callie Supsinskas led the way for the team, crossing the line in sixth place, behind race winner Sarah Smith of Jackson.

Freshman Mary Bakeman continued cutting a wide swath through her rookie high school season, placing ninth overall and finishing six seconds behind Supsinskas in 20:22. Senior Julie Gabelein was next, taking 12th place 11 seconds back, while Nancy Godsey and Kellie Degraaf shadowed each other to 20th and 21st places. Also running for the varsity squad were Becky Gabelein and Anna Merrill.

In addition to the varsity success, the Falcons saw fast finishes in freshman/sophomore and junior varsity races. Almost every South Whidbey runner in those races set a personal-best time. Jeff Serrill was the fastest non-varsity boy, searing his race with an 18:28 finish time. On the girls side, Katherine East was speediest, running her race in 23:30.

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