FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Boys are jump started

They may not be big, but they
They may not be big, but they're fast. The South Whidbey boys cross country team, which includes James Sundquist, Jeff Strong, Holton Schmitt, JD Peters, Drew Aernie, Chris dePender, Kurt Warwick, Jason Tenuta, Jason Fitz and Phil Schorr, will need everybody to challenge for post-season titles in 2003.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

With just 11 teammates out running with him this season, Holton Schmitt knows there's not a lot of depth on the Falcon boys cross country team. He also knows the team doesn't need it.

Though they come into the 2003 season missing some key runners from last year, this group of runners is the sort that seems to be able to fill any hole. They did that last year, when Schmitt -- then a sophomore and the team's third-ranked runner -- had to sit out the district meet due to an injury, as did the team's season-long leader James Sundquist. Even without them, the Falcons still won.

This season, Schmitt is looking forward to more of the same, only without the injuries.

"There's no one guy leading the team," he said.

Looking to trade footfalls this year with state championship hopeful Chelan, Cashmere, Spokane and a rising Lakewood team, the Falcons do aspire to be the best in the 2A division. Though only able to pull out ninth place last year, the Falcons have at least four runners capable of completing 3.1 miles in under 17 minutes. Sundquist, a senior, is back, as is sophomore standout JD Peters. Also definite front-pack runners are Schmitt and senior Jeff Strong. But with state runner Conley White moving to football this season, the team's fifth and final scoring spot will be up for grabs. Competing for it will be junior Drew Aernie, sophomore Chris dePender, and perhaps one of three freshmen -- Jason Fitz, Jason Tenuta and Curt Warwick.

The team's coach, Doug Fulton, said the boys are up to challenge almost anyone. Noting that the boys put on the best set of summer miles he's gotten out of a team in years, he said the Falcons are likely to have higher, faster peak performances this season.

But he doesn't want that peak to come too soon.

"We have to hold them back in practice," he said.

Peters, who became the team's leader on the course after Sundquist got hurt late last season, said he doesn't see any reason to slow down just as the speed is coming on.

"I'd say we've got a jump start," he said.

The boys will travel with the girls team througout the season, including to the Iolani Invitational in Oahu, Hawaii.

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