Girls cross country wins conference

After a season where several of South Whidbey High School’s girl’s cross county runners missed meets due to injuries or other committements, the team was able to mesh at the most important time of the season.

Employing a pack attack tactic, where only 4 seconds separated the top four Falcons, the top five Falcon runners won the championship meet with a score of 30 points, outdistancing Cascade Confrence rival King’s 44 points. by a 14 point margin.

Running at Lakewood High School on a mostly flat 3.1-mile course course in muddy and cold conditions, Coach Doug Fulton said the King’s girls took the early lead. But South Whidbey overtook the Knights about halfway through the race to ultimately win the meet.

“Ideally, we wanted the top two girls in front of King’s number one runner,” he said. Instead, all four of the top runners beat the Knights top runner Heidi Peterson, who finished sixth.

“We met all of our goals and more so,” Fulton said.

The fact that the top four runners finished second through fifth surprised senior Nancy Godsey, the team’s no. 1 runner. Though she added that it’s proven effective for the team.

“We always run better once we run in a pack,” she said.

Second place finisher Godsey paced the Falcons with a time of 20-minutes and 26 seconds, shaving 43 seconds off her time from last year at the course. Erica Johnson continued to run an impressive freshman campaign, finishing third overall with a pr time of 20:33. Sophomore Katy Gordon crossed the finish line in fourth with a time of 20:36, an improvement of 72 seconds from her time last year.

Junior Mary Bakeman’s placed fifth in 20:40. Rounding out the team scoring was freshman Jane Sinclair, who ran her first Cascade Confrence race in 22:43 to place 17th overall and 16th in team scoring.

Since the team scoring takes into account the top five scores, Fulton said the fifth place finish could prove pivotal for South Whidbey’s girls to advance to state for the 15th consecutive time. To prepare for the meet, Sinclair said she plans to work on an even running pace this week. She said she went too fast at the beginning of the conference meet, which left her with less energy toward the end of the race.

In the boys race, junior JD Peters narrowly avoided winning the overall meet when Lakewood’s Nathan Zahn sprinted past him with 200 meters to go on to beat Peters by one second.

Peters, who admits that he’s not a good sprinter, said he spent most of his race running back and forth with Lakewood junior Tyler Rapp, a rival since their freshman year. So he said when he took the lead about half-mile from the finish line, he did not expect Zahn to pass him.

Because Lakewood, who won with a score of 31, was the number ranked team in 3A boy’s cross country, Coach Fulton said losing to them was not unexpected. But the boys had hoped to beat King’s, the state’s fourth ranked team, who defeated the Falcons 66-60 to place second.

The season-long battle against injuries and illness continued in the conference meet. Fulton said junior Chris DePender, their no. 2 runner, placed 11th in a time of 18:01 while still feeling the effects of a bad cold. Senior Holton Schmitt, who has battled injuries all season, finished third on the team and 15th overall in a time of 18:10.

“They were not at our peak,” Fulton said. “But they ran with a lot of heart and did real well.”

Jason Fitz placed fourth in the team and 17th overall in a time of 18:17. Kurt Warwick’s 18:26 placed him fifth on the team and 21st overall.

The Falcons return home Saturday to host the district meet, which will determine who goes to the state meet. On the girl’s side, the top three teams and top 15 individuals go to the state. For the boys, the two teams with the lowest scores and the 10 individuals with best times will take the trip to Pasco.

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