Falcon runners getting closer to rivals

It’s all about to pay off.

At the North County Invitational in Marysville Thursday, the South Whidbey girls cross country team came close to beating one of the best teams in the region, Shorewood; only, the runners and coaches from Shorewood didn’t know it. In need of a top-three placing at the Oct. 30 district meet — to be held on home territory at South Whidbey High School — the Falcons placed sixth at North County, five places and 23 points behind meet champion Shorewood, but within theoretical striking distance of the invitational victory.

With the team’s second-fastest runner, sophomore Katy Gordon, gone on a short vacation, the Falcons nonethless came up with three top-three placings in the class-segmented format of the meet. Running in the freshman race, Falcon Erica Johnson set the tone for South Whidbey, taking third on the rolling, 3.0-mile golf-course run in 19:52. The time was the closest she had come this season to going under 20 minutes for the slightly longer, official 3.1-mile cross country distance.

With Gordon not running the sophomore race, Casey Brasko raced to a mid-pack finish, crossing the finish line in 24:14 for 24th place. Had Gordon been running the race, and running it at her usual pace, she would likely have taken a top-two placing, according to South Whidbey coach Doug Fulton. The swing in points would have at least given the Falcons a tie for second place, if not the meet victory.

In the junior race, Mary Bakeman raced in good form just a week after dropping out of a race due to an injury. She covered the course in 19:42 to take second place.

Fastest for South Whidbey was senior Nancy Godsey, second to Rachael Botham of Shorewood by just six seconds in the upperclassman race. Her time of 19:05 was her best of the season.

Coach Fulton said that if the Falcons had been at the meet with a full lineup, they would have defeated Cascades Conference favorite King’s. The Falcons race in the Cascade Conference championship on Thursday.

In the boys race, South Whidbey had a showing that proves they will be in the thick of it at tomorrow’s championship meet. Finishing in sixth with 43 points, the Falcon boys could not catch second-place conference rival Lakewood in second, but they did beat another Cascade Conference team, King’s, and finished within six points of Shorecrest, a team they need to beat at the district meet.

Having the best day on the team was junior JD Peters. At the head of a pack of about 60 runners with Lakewood’s Tyler Rapp, Peters held the pace through most of the race, falling back slightly at the finish as he took second in a time of 16:13 — 16 seconds back of Rapp.

In the freshman race, two Falcon runners, Trevor Martin and Nick Rovang, finished within a second and one place of one another, taking 20th and 21st. Martin’s points counted toward the team total, as he was the first South Whidbey runner to finish the race.

In the sophomore race, two more Falcon runners raced in lockstep. Jason Fitz was the scorer for his team, taking 11th in 17:18. But close behind was Kurt Warwick, a 13th-place finisher just 7 seconds back.

The senior race saw a longtime Falcon standout, Holton Schmidt, come back to form. After struggling all season with injuries and illness, Schmidt was a ninth-place, 16:57 finisher in his race.

“It was the best race of the year so fair,” said Schmidt, who has been the Falcons’ No. 2 or No. 3 runner for the past three seasons.

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