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Girls win at Westling
They tried to make it fair.
Having invited 15 boys and girls track teams to Saturday's Westling Invitational -- teams with some of the best track athletes in the state -- South Whidbey seemed to have set itself up for a tough battle in front of the home crowd.
But with a balance of talent spread throughout running and field events unlike any the teams have had in the past decade, the Falcons saw more than their fair share of time atop the awards podium on a sunny weekend day at the races.
Avenging their lost to Marysville-Pilchuck at the meet last year, the South Whidbey girls controlled top placings in almost every event to gap M-P by 11.5-points to win the meet.
On the boys side, South Whidbey lost their 2002 Westling crown, placing third behind Marysville-Pilchuck and Bainbridge.
To try to pick a story to describe the meet would be impossible: There were too many good ones. Up front, there were the Falcons' very own Wonder Twins, Katy and Kyle McGillen. The junior brother-sister team accounted for 62 of the Falcons' combined 240 points for the day. Katy McGillen won the high and triple jumps, 110-meter hurdles and placed second in the javelin. Her brother won the long jump with a personal record leap of 21 feet, 2.5 inches, took second in the high jump and third in the triple jump.
There was also the boys javelin throw, an event at which South Whidbey has had spotty success in recent years. On Saturday, Jeremy Iverson, Daniel Eining and Travis Tornga swept the top three spots with throws over 147 feet to give the Falcon boys 30 percent of their points.
In running events, the Falcons were tough at all distances. Freshman Katherine East captured her team's first victory in the 400 at a major invitational in years when she outmuscled a fast field with a time of 62.75 seconds. At shorter distances, junior Claudia Gil-Osorio was still the queen of speed despite a lingering cold. She took a win in the 100, placed second in the 200, then held off Marysville-Pilchuck in the 4x200 to give the Falcon girls their only relay victory of the day.
At the longer distances, Falcons Julie Gabelein, Nancy Godsey and Kelly DeGraaf stayed at the head of the pack, with Gabelein placing third in both the 1,600 and 3,200, Godsey taking fourth in the 800 and 1,600, and DeGraaf picking up sixth-place points in the 1,600. For the boys, James Sundquist was fifth in the two longest races, while senior Brandon Bilyeu used a season-best 2:04 in the 800 to take fourth.
Among the successes, there were the what-ifs. Out for the meet with an injury was senior sprinter Andy Wills, who Falcon coach Doug Fulton said could have picked up 25 points or more, enough to make the battle for first and second place interesting. Wills' absence was felt most acutely in the 4x100 relay, when a blown handoff on the second exchange sent recently healed junior sprinter Nick Plastino rolling on the track and disqualified the team.
Meet records set Saturday included improbably long throws in the shot put and discus by Matt Wauters of Bainbridge, and a 3:26.04 run by Bainbridge in the 4x400 that eclipsed the top mark set in 2002 by South Whidbey.
Saturday's action followed a double South Whidbey win in a North Cascades Conference triangular meet at Lynden Christian last Thursday. In the meet, the Falcon girls won 14 of 17 events on their way to the victory. The boys had eight individual event wins, even with Andy Wills sidelined.
Coach Fulton said the two meets were the best he can remember in terms of personal achievement. This week, he gave out 110 awards to athletes who had set personal-best marks.
Though his two teams are a bit "banged up" at this point in the season, Fulton said both boys and girls squads will likely challenge for the state title in Cheney later this month.
The Falcons have this week off from competition. They compete next on May 9 in an NCC road meet, then travel to Lynden Christian High School May 14 to vie for their fourth-straight NCC title.