Running on their home course made all the difference for the South Whidbey cross country teams in a 24-team invitational race Saturday.
The Falcons hosted the massive race at South Whidbey High School and Community Park and relied on several hundred miles of offseason training to carry them. Mallorie Mitchem, a sophomore, finished as the top girl for South Whidbey in 11th place overall, and senior Gavin Imes the top Falcon boy in 31st place.
“My legs are dead, which is what I wanted,” Mitchem said.
South Whidbey’s girls, ranked the fifth-best 1A program in Washington by a coaches’ poll, were able to pack three runners in the top 20 and finished as the third-place team overall. In the small-schools division, South Whidbey girls placed second behind Mount Baker, a 1A team from the Northwest Conference.
Steady rain the night before slowed the course a little bit, but also made for a cooler run as cloud cover kept the sun at bay.
Mitchem led her teammates with a time of 21:15.07, a bit shy of her best time on her home course.
“It felt really great to pass a group,” Mitchem said.
Jaime Rodden, a senior, placed 15th overall in 21:28.49 in the first 5,000-meter race of her high school career. Freshman Anna Leski placed 17th in 21:23.47.
Emma Lungren, a junior, placed 32nd overall in 22:17.01.
A pair of freshmen filled out the varsity roster for South Whidbey. Bethany Justus finished in 22:39.84 and Riley Yale in 24:06.38.
On the boys team, which placed fourth in the small-schools division behind Cedar Park Christian, King’s and Cascade-Leavenworth, Imes led the Falcons in the stead of usual top runner Cole Zink, a junior. Imes smashed his previous best time on the South Whidbey course in 18:13.22.
“On this course, it’s so hard, most people hate it,” Imes said.
There was a long separation between him and his teammates.
Chris Anderson, a sophomore, placed 50th in 18:48.09. Freshman Will Simms came in at 19:02.62.
Juniors Truman Hood and Anders Bergquist were the only grouped Falcon boy runners. Hood finished in 19:23.77, Bergquist in 19:28.97.
Justin Gonzales, a freshman, rounded out the varsity lineup with a time of 19:48.06.
Nathan Wadhwani, a senior from Terry Fox in British Columbia, won the boys medal. Erin Mullins, a freshman from Cascade-Leavenworth, won the girls medal.