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For most of Saturday, South Whidbey High Schools track coaches were counting points.
On the third day of competition at the state 2A track and field championships in Cheney, less than a handful of points stood between the South Whidbey boys team and the schools first ever state track championship. It was hard to believe, considering the fact that senior jumper Kyle McGillen swept individual championships in the long, triple and high jumps, and that victories in the javelin and the 3,200 also came the teams way. But those 50 points were the ones everyone on the team pretty much expected it was the other 17 the Falcons had to scramble for.
The team championship would hang in the balance over and over, and in the end came down to just three points as South Whidbey edged meet runner-up Pullman 67-64.
The point counting started Thursday, when South Whidbey sprinter Nick Plastino had yet to determine whether he could run on a torn hamstring. With tape wrapped tight around his leg, he did run, dashing to fifth place in the 100-meter dash and pacing the Falcons 4x100 team into the finals.
Then, on Saturday, senior distance runner James Sundquist kept his team on the cusp by dusting the field in the final 600 meters of the 3,200 including fifth-place Pawel Szafruga of Pullman to swing 10 more points into South Whidbeys favor.
That was key to our title hopes, said Falcon head coach Doug Fulton.
One more piece of the puzzle fell into place in the long jump finals Saturday, when McGillen who had led the event starting in the preliminary jumps popped off a jump of 22 feet, 11 inches to beat Ashton Grant of Pullman, who was a scant 4 inches behind.
We didnt know until we started long jumping I needed to do good in that, McGillen said.
McGillen also gave the Falcons maximum points in the triple jump, though just barely. After watching Steven Wesley of Medical take the lead in the event on his final jump, McGillen came back with a personal-best jump of 44-9 to win, again by just 4 inches.
Elsewhere on the field, senior javelin thrower Travis Tornga made the last swing of points to keep his team comfortably ahead. Leading his event from the start, Tornga the 2003 state runner-up watched 2003 state champion Adam Togstad of Lakewood take the lead on his final throw, notching a mark of 170-2. With one more turn with the javelin himself, Tornga responded, airing one out for a mark of 172-1 into a 20 mph wind.
Thats a lot of nerves, coach Fulton said of the comeback.
All these points in these smaller victories were needed by the meets final event, the 4x400 relay. Nick Plastino, the Falcons fastest quarter miler, had to pull out of the event after re-aggrevating his injury in the shorter sprints. Though his brother, Marco, subbed in, the Falcons didnt even make the finals, sacrificing the event to the winning team from Pullman. But with a 13-point lead going into the event, South Whidbey could not lose: The championship trophy was coming back to Whidbey Island.
Coach Fulton said it took efforts by every state qualifier from his team to take the championship. In addition to the winning performances by McGillen, Tornga and Sundquist, sophomore JD Peters earned placing points in the 800, and the 4x100 team of Evan Johnson, McGillen, Marco Plastino and Adam Tenuta took fifth in Saturdays final.
Hern, McGillen pace girls to sixth
Though a state title was not a realistic possibility for the Falcon girls, the team brought plenty of fireworks to Cheney.
Lighting it up in the field were junior Kimery Hern and senior Katy McGillen. Hern, the state leader in the discus the entire season, outmuscled the closest competition by nearly 20 feet with a winning toss of 136-2. McGillen, who took scoring placings in the 100 hurdles, high jump and triple jump, recovered from some mediocre throws in the preliminaries of the girls javelin to win the event on one final throw. Coach Fulton said that winning toss of 134-1 was a personal best for McGillen and a new school record.
Herns throw in the discus was also a personal best and broke her own school record.
The big almost of the meet came in the 4x200 relay. After shocking state leader Steilacoom by setting the best time in the preliminaries and setting a new school record, the foursome of Hope Richards, Nicole Mock, Sarah Olson and Katherine East placed a close second to Steilacoom in the finals, finishing in 1:46.82.
East was South Whidbeys only other individual scorer, taking fifth in the 400 in a personal best time of 1:01.29.
WIAA State 2A track championship
Teams: South Whidbey 67, Pullman 64, Medical Lake 58 (39 total teams)
Individuals (finals): 100 1. Joey Greene (Mt. Baker) 11.41, 5. N. Plastino (SW) 11.58; 400 1. Brendan Cassleman (Pullman) 50.94, 7. Johnson (SW) 52.76; 800 1. Phil Hinrichs (Pullman) 1:56.64, 9. Peters (SW) 2:03.92; 1,600 1. Hinrichs (Pullman) 4:19.17, 3. Peters (SW) 4:34.23, 6. Sundquist (SW) 4:36.48; 3,200 1. James Sundquist (SW) 9:51.44; 4x100 1. Medical Lake 43.88, 7. South Whidbey (Johnson, McGillen, Plastino, Tenuta) 44.84; High jump 1. Kyle McGillen (SW) 6-5, 15. Streitler (SW) 5-8; Long jump 1. McGillen (SW) 22-11, 9. Tornga (SW) 19-10.25; Triple jump 1. McGillen (SW) 44-9.75; Javelin 1. Travis Tornga (SW) 172-1
Teams: Woodland 69, Steilacoom 55, Pullman 51, Mount Baker 46, Cascade 46, Connell 39, South Whidbey 39 (38 total teams)
Individuals: 400 1. Selena Galaviz (Toppenish) 59.19, 5. East (SW) 1:01.29; 1,600 1. Andrea Brown (Mt. Baker) 5:12.56, 9. Godsey (SW) 5:35.22; 100 hurdles 1. Cassie Merkley (Cascade) 15.22, 8. McGillen (SW) 17.92; 4x200 1. Steilacoom 1:46.30, 2. South Whidbey (Richards, Mock, Olson, East) 1:46.82; High jump 1. McKinnon Hanson (Forks) 5-7, 6. McGillen (SW) 5-2; Triple jump 1. Lindsay Myron (Pullman) 35-11.5, 6. McGillen (SW) 34-0; Discus 1. Kimery Hern (SW) 136-2; Javelin 1. Katy McGillen (SW) 134-1, 9. Tobler (SW) 108-8