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No home meets, no problem for South Whidbey track team | FALCON SPRING SPORTS PREVIEW
It’s a rare sunny day and some 70-plus students are scattered around Waterman Field at a track and field practice.
It was a welcome sight to senior Nick French, a 1A state meet-caliber javelin thrower, who recalled track and field numbers dwindling to the 20s as a freshman.
“I remember going to a javelin practice and there were six throwers,” he said.
Things are different now, in head coach Mark Eager’s second year. At the other end of the 100-meter stretch from him and the other sprinters and jumpers is a small host of throwers working out with throwing coach Jeff Greene.
The size of the program also thrilled Madi Boyd, a senior sprinter who has run track all four years at South Whidbey High School.
“Pretty much the whole basketball team is out, which is awesome,” she said.
“A lot of school leaders are on track,” she added.
This year may be the swing from the girls team usually placing higher in Cascade Conference and district meets to the boys team taking the lead. The girls team lost several prominent seniors, including Angelina Berger, one of 1A’s best throwers the past four years.
What the team may lack in its top-tier throwing talent, Boyd said, it will make up for with its strength in numbers.
“We have a lot more girl throwers, so hopefully our numbers will make up for her winning,” Boyd said, adding that a few softball players, potentially with strong arms, joined track this season.
A new spirit of commitment has taken hold in the track athletes, Boyd and French said. Last year, some of the Falcons left as the season wore on or did not take practice seriously enough.
“Last year people thought of track practice as an optional thing,” Boyd said.
But by the season’s end when several athletes qualified for the 1A state meet, people took notice that Falcon track and field was a contender.
It’s bolstered the boys sprinters, who have their sights set on racing in the state meet after narrowly missing last season.
“We’re going to take four relays to state,” French said. “I don’t know if we’re fast enough as individuals.”
Passing the baton will be a major focus for the boys sprinters, of which French was one the past two seasons. Last year, the handoff was rife with issues that French said stemmed from turnover on the relay teams. With some of his lifelong friends beside him in the 100-meter lanes, French said the 400-meter relay and the 1,600-meter relay teams have the right personnel.
“We have the guys to challenge for a spot at state,” he said.
His true passion, and the thing that will draw many a spectator to tracks around the conference this season, is the javelin. Last year, French set his best mark at 182 feet. But an injury limited his ability to run before he threw and his distance tapered at the state meet. Feeling healthy, French has his sights set on throwing 200 feet and competing for a state title.
“I just throw as far as I can every time,” he said.
“We want to show people that’s not a fluke year,” he added, referring to South Whidbey’s showing through the conference and district meets.
Relays figure to be a strength for the girls team as well. Boyd noted the addition of athletes from other sports that could bolster the runners’ ranks, as well as the stalwart distance runners headed by junior Cole Zink and sophomore girl Mallorie Mitchem.
“I think we have a lot of talent all around,” Boyd said. “I think we’re going to be one of the better teams, actually.”
For the second season in a row, South Whidbey will not have any home meets at Waterman Field. The closest South Whidbey will come to a home meet will be a preseason jamboree at Oak Harbor High School on March 20.