Sports

Off successful year for girls at XC state championship, boys aim to catch up | FALCON FALL SPORTS PREVIEW

South Whidbey’s cross country teams head out for a run at Camp Casey in Coupeville at the start of the season. Leading the pack are Gavin Imes, Will Simms and Cole Zink.  - Jim Waller / The Record
South Whidbey’s cross country teams head out for a run at Camp Casey in Coupeville at the start of the season. Leading the pack are Gavin Imes, Will Simms and Cole Zink.
— image credit: Jim Waller / The Record

Running hundreds of miles in the spring and summer is where state titles are made, and that secret is well known to the South Whidbey cross country teams.

The boys ran between 15 and 25 miles per week from late June to late August. The Falcon girls followed suit with a similar regimen of five miles per day, six days each week.

With miles like that logged on the 30-member strong program, senior Gavin Imes has high hopes for the boys squad. Last year, the girls team qualified for the state 1A championship meet, and he wants the boys team to follow this season.

“The guys team is looking pretty good this year,” he said.

The top six teams from the 1A tri-district meet will advance to the state championship meet. Given the returning group of varsity runners like Imes and junior Cole Zink, the squad believes it can finish as high as fourth place or even higher.

South Whidbey’s unknown factor is its large group of freshmen boys and girls. On the boys team, Imes noted ninth grader Will Simms as someone who can help the team. Young runners like Chris Anderson and Anders Bergquist should also be a boon to the team’s ranking and times.

On the girls team, lone four-year runner Caitlyn Workman credited a little recruiting for a spike in the girls team’s numbers this season. A couple of seniors joined the program after spending seasons in other sports or away entirely, and a large freshmen class boosted the girls squad.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Workman said. “But I’m glad it happened.”

She and the other varsity runners will try to return to the state 1A championship meet this year, thanks to an influx of young, talented runners like junior Emma Lungren, sophomores Mallorie Mitchem, Carson Keeley-Orr, Anna Justus, Ellie Boone and freshman Kinsey Eager.

Keeping them all healthy will be crucial to team success, an issue at the start of the season after running 30 miles a day in the summer.

“A lot of the girls have gotten injured because they trained so hard this summer,” Workman said.

Last season, the Falcons’ varsity runners clustered between the low 21-minute and the mid 23-minute range. If they can bring it closer to an average of 21 minutes, South Whidbey should do well.

“We’re all really excited,” Workman said. “I know our girls team will go far this season.”

South Whidbey canceled its trip to Seaside, Oregon for the Three Course Challenge. It will, however, return to Yakima in October for the Sunfair Invitational. The Falcons have one home meet scheduled during the regular season, the South Whidbey Invite, and one postseason meet for the Cascade Conference and WESCO 3A/4A championships Oct. 26.

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