Track: South Whidbey's Poolman and Hallberg are 2A state champs

Falcon Will Hallberg flies through the air Friday during his successful shot at a state title in the triple jump. - Dan Poolman photo
Falcon Will Hallberg flies through the air Friday during his successful shot at a state title in the triple jump.
— image credit: Dan Poolman photo

Jon Poolman and Will Hallberg of South Whidbey High School are this year’s 2A state champions in the 400-meter run and triple jump.

Medals also went to hurdler Laura Barrow and jumper Cayla Calderwood; a total of nine state medals were awarded to the four Falcon athletes.

The South Whidbey boys team — all two of them — did well enough to place 10th overall out of 42 schools. Not only that, the boys team ended the year as 2A academic state champions with a combined grade point average of 3.62.

The Falcon girls team placed 14th out of 47 schools at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma during the rainy two-day event Friday and Saturday. Black Hills won the overall title for boys teams, Sehome for the girls.

Poolman ran the 400-meter race in 49.36 seconds for first place. Blair Bomber of Lynden and Eric Walsh of Black Hills took second and third.

Poolman also placed fourth in the 100-meter dash in 11.58; Black Hills’ Trent Alsin took the top spot.

Poolman ran a personal best to take the 400-meter, but said that any of the five runners could have won.

“They were the best from all over the state, so I knew I had to lead the first 200 meters or be close to the front,” he said. “I was third coming around the corner and it was all adrenaline and guts from there.”

The biggest challenge came from Lynden’s Bomber.

“He was expecting to win, was confident, and had the fastest time in the state,” Poolman said. “Later at the awards ceremony he told me, ‘Good job.’”

A harsh headwind kept overall times down in the 100-meter.

“I had another bad start, which can kill you because there isn’t time to correct,” Poolman said.

“I was able to shift gears and pull up to fourth, but no farther.”

Hallberg took the triple with 46 feet, 7.5 inches (a school record) and placed sixth in the high jump with 21-07, an event won by Thomas Kassa of Anacortes.

Hallberg beat Jerome Prescod from Ephrata and DeAngelo Jones of Cheney in the triple to take the state crown.

It was all about the shoes.

“I’ve been having problems with my heels hurting when I land,” Hallberg said. “The pain goes away after 10 minutes, but, still. The triple is a highly technical event; if one thing goes wrong, you can be on your face in a hurry.”

So he bought a new pair of shoes designed for the triple jump by Adidas, with a flat bottom and flared, molded heel.

“They give me a lot more power in my jumps,” he noted. “I missed going to state last year by two inches, so this has been a real experience.”

A junior, Hallberg said he plans to be back next year as well.

As part of his training regimen, Hallberg watches videos of Olympic athletes jumping, then listens to the music from the event on his iPod while he creates a mental image of the perfect jump.

Barrow placed sixth in both the 100-meter hurdles — in 16.94 seconds — and 300-meter hurdles with 47.78. Chelsea Genther of Burlington took first in the 100, Alyssa Wicknick from Bellingham was the state champion in the 300.

“My heel knocked one of the hurdles on the 100, so that affected me obviously,” Barrow recalled. “You never know what can happen on race day.”

She said she factored in the weather — both days were rainy with blustery winds — but overall was satisfied with her performance.

“I ran my heart out in both races and medaled, so it’s all good,” Barrow said.

Calderwood was third in the triple jump with 35-08, fifth in the high jump at 5 feet even and eighth in the long jump with 15-08. Sehome’s Zoe Moller, Hockinson’s Kyra Davidson and Moller took first place in those events.

Calderwood ended her varsity career with nine state medals.

She said that her main competitor, Moller — the eventual state champion in the triple jump — was ready to compete.

“We were both capable of going farther, but on Friday she was two-and-a-quarter inches more capable,” she said. “Frankly, I flubbed it and was scratched on two of my best jumps when I stepped on the line.”

Calderwood said that her four-year career was a rewarding experience.

“The team and the coaches, I’ll miss them, but it’s time to move on,” she noted.

Calderwood has entered a non-school sponsored heptathlon next month in Lake Stevens prior to qualifying for the Harvard University track team in the fall.

Falcon coach Doug Fulton said his teams exceeded expectations.

“We couldn’t have done any better,” he said. “We took six kids and brought home nine medals. Conditions were awful, especially on Friday, but the kids just went out there and competed.

“And they won.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or

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