Barrow and Poolman share a love of running — together

Falcon track stars Laura Barrow and Jon Poolman are looking forward to winning performances in hurdles and the 100-meter dash this spring. - Jeff VanDerford
Falcon track stars Laura Barrow and Jon Poolman are looking forward to winning performances in hurdles and the 100-meter dash this spring.
— image credit: Jeff VanDerford

BAYVIEW — About this time one year ago, South Whidbey High School seniors Jon Poolman and Laura Barrow — who had known each other all their lives — caved in to the realization that they clicked as a couple.

Both on the running track and in their personal lives.

In the fall, Poolman plays wide receiver and safety for the Falcon football team, while Barrow is a center back defender on the girls soccer team.

But this spring, their thoughts are turning to the 100- and 200-meter dash for him and the 100- and 300-meter hurdles for her.

“The two sports seem to be dissimilar, but I’ve found that track helps me get faster in the backfield, while football makes me more competitive,” Poolman said. “And lifting weights in the off-season helps both.”

When he hurt his hamstring halfway through last season, Poolman led the state in the 200-meter with 22.68 seconds. His goal is clear: a berth at the state finals in Tacoma.

Barrow said she loves soccer because a team effort is needed to achieve victory, while the hurdles pays off for her based on individual effort. Barrow was second in districts in the 300-meter event and seventh at state last May and is working to do even better.

Growing up and going through the South Whidbey public school system, coupled with living on a small island, brought them together.

“We discovered we liked hanging out with each other more than with others,” Poolman said.

“It was a natural progression,” Barrow agreed.

Though they both like country music — Garth Brooks for him, Rascal Flats for her — they differ in their taste for books and movies.

Poolman favors classic novels like “To Kill a Mockingbird,” while Barrow is into the bloody, yet delicate, embrace of the “Twilight” series of fantasy romances about teenage vampires.

To no surprise, Poolman likes sports films — “Hoosiers” tops his list — and Barrow enjoys comedies and love stories.

Asked about their favorite foods, both played it safe and cited recipes from mom — mashed potatoes, gravy with cheese topping for Barrow and baked noodles with marinara sauce for him.

Off the field, Poolman has developed a fondness for history, and is giving thought to a career as an educator. He cited Mark Eager as the teacher who made the biggest impact on him.

“During my AP History class, Eager gave everything he had to help us understand the subject,” Poolman recalled. “And he expected the best from us right back.”

Eager found Poolman to be something of an enigma.

“He sits in class silently absorbing everything, and you wonder if he’s getting it because he’s not shooting his hand in the air to comment,” Eager said. “Then he writes an articulate essay and later, out of the blue, he says he wants to be a history teacher? Unlike a lot of kids who wear their opinions on their shirt sleeve, Jon wades through all the information first and then briefly summarizes his opinions with understatement.”

Barrow credits Jennifer Gochenour for supporting her interest in Spanish.

“I’m taking an independent-studies class this year, which is student-directed based on the teacher’s curriculum,” she explained. She isn’t sure yet where that will lead, and plans on studying both Spanish and business in college.

Gochenour will be sorry to see Barrow graduate.

“She is one of the most big-hearted, understated kids I know,” Gochenour said. “She is a dedicated, diligent student who excels in my Spanish classes and is a talented athlete in track and soccer. Most of all, I appreciate Laura for her constant smile, her upbeat demeanor and her positive attitude, which all brighten the day for those around her.”

Both students agree on the quality of their education to date and are planning to enroll together at either Washington State University or Western Washington University in the fall.

“I don’t think I could have gone to a better school anywhere,” Poolman said. “We have lots of great, dedicated teachers who love what they do.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or

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