Best in the Westling

Every indication at the Waterman Field track Saturday was that the kids from South Whidbey didn’t have a lot of expectations from the day.

All week, members of the high school girls team had heard from their coach, Doug Fulton, that a top-four finish among the 13 teams at the annual Westling Invitational was the best that could be expected. The members of this season’s unusually small Falcon boys team knew they would have to struggle to stand out in the pack, as the Westling brings some of the best track teams in the state to South Whidbey every year.

Even as the meet got going, some of South Whidbey’s top performers seemed to be in a modest mood. Senior discus thrower Kimery Hern had a smile on her face after throwing 130 feet 11 inches and winning the event, but didn’t place too much significance in her longest toss since taking a cast of a healed broken wrist a week into the track season.

“Yeah, I was happy,” she said of the breakthrough throw.

Jason Fitz, one of less than a handful of Falcon boys capable of winning events at meets this year, was a little more excited after taking third place in the 110 high hurdles, but that may have had something to do with a lucky break he got from the competitor next to him just before the finish line.

“He took down my last hurdle, so I didn’t even have to jump over it,” he said.

All the while, no one had any clue that the girl Falcons were on their way to pulling off the upset of the year, not even their coach. But when the final tally was printed at the end of the meet, the Falcons had defeated both runner-up Kennedy high-school by a massive margin of 38 points, and taken out 4A Oak Harbor, a third-place finisher in the meet. Fulton, who had been managing the meet more than coaching, said he had no idea what the girls had done until the day’s team scores were announced. The 133 points the Falcons had amassed compared to the 94.75 earned by Kennedy was more than he could have imagined.

“When I saw the results, I was pleasantly surprised,” he said.

Five individual event wins — including victories by the sprint team of Katherine East, Erica Johnson , Sarah Olson and Lauren Sandri in the 4x100 and 4x200 relays — brought in the big points for the team. Competitive across the board, the Falcons had top-three finishes in sprint events, long-distance runs, and in the field.

The day was a breakthrough for several athletes. After Hern hit her milepost throw in the discus, East warmed up for the relays she would lead off by winning the 400 in her best time ever, 59.61 seconds. A second-place finish in the 200 by Olson and a fourth-place dash in the 100 by Sandri was also a welcome achievement for a sprinting corps that has been searching for injury-free consistency all season.

In the distance events, senior Nancy Godsey did workhorse duty, grabbing third-place finishes in the 800 and 1,600. The only Falcon to run further than she did was junior Mary Bakeman, who was a sixth-place finisher in the 1,600 before popping off her best time in the 3,200 to take third overall.

Top field results came from Sandri in the long jump (third, 15 feet, 2 inches), Emma Ruggiero in the discus (second, 102-8.75), Hern in the shot put (fourth, 29-7.75), and from freshmen Marijane Daumen and Annie Doran, who hit personal best leaps of 4-8 in the high jump to score for the team.

The Falcons also picked up big points on the day’s other two relays. In the 4x800, Bakeman, Godsey, Johnson and Nichole Parnell hung tough for third. The Falcon 4x400 team was a fourth-place finisher.

On the boys side of the meet, there were far fewer high placings. The Falcons ended the day with 27 points and in 10th place as a team.

Consistently tough was Jason Fitz. In addition to his top-three placing in the 110 hurdles, he came back later in the day to cross the finish line in fifth place in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

In the distance events, junior JD Peters did double duty, roaring out in the 1,600 for a 4 minute, 41 second fourth place, then following up with a seventh-place run in the 800.

The team’s only other scoring athlete was junior thrower Todd Berry, who sewed up eighth place in both the shot put and discus.

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