Senior boys cross country runner Evan Mellish may not have hit his goal of running a sub-18-minute 5-kilometer on Saturday at the 2015 South Whidbey Invitational, but there’s still plenty to be happy about.
After missing most of the 2014 season with a broken foot, Mellish set a personal best with a time of 18 minutes and six seconds for a 15th overall finish at South Whidbey’s annual home cross country meet.
Sure, there’s room to improve, he says, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“I was hoping to break 18 (minutes) to start off the season, so then I’d just have to worry about getting past 17,” Mellish said. “It was a good way to come back. There were a lot of familiar faces that I was competing against and all but one I was able to keep ahead of.”
Over 30 teams attended the event, which then split into two separate divisions based on the size of the competing schools.
Mellish led a Falcon boys team which finished third overall in Division 2 at the invite.
Mellish was considered by head cross country coach Doug Fulton as one of the hardest working members of the team this summer, after putting in over 400 miles of off-season workouts.
“He really dedicated himself to summer training,” Fulton said. “Senior leader, he just did a great job this summer. You got to put miles in if you’re going to be a cross country runner. And it shows. Most of the boys did too, they worked hard, and that’s how championships are won, in the summertime.”
Mellish was followed close behind by junior Justin Gonzales, who finished 19th overall with a time of 18 minutes and 20 seconds.
Gonzales was among the front runners for the first portion of the race, which loops across and back around the baseball field and onto the track, followed by the trails near the upper athletic fields.
He was eventually passed by Mellish, but Gonzales did beat out King’s runner Cameron Chew by a half second and was 14 seconds behind Mellish for his 19th-place finish.
Junior Collin Burns finished in the top 40 with his 18-minute, 47-second time, while juniors Will Simms and Cory Ackerman finished 60th and 65th overall, respectively.
Sophomore Elizabeth Donnelly spearheaded the Falcon girls, who finished 12th in the team standings.
Donnelly, who has been dealing with a hip injury since the start of the season, finished 25th overall with a time of 23:01:93.
“I felt great on the first mile and then I just kind of died after the hill,” Donnelly said. “I just have to work on that for districts.”
Falcon senior Iona Rohan finished 40th overall after completing the course in 24 minutes and five seconds. Sophomore Annika Hustad finished in the top 70 with a time of 25 minutes and 48 seconds.
The Falcons have suffered setbacks from a string of injuries and illnesses to start the season.
Senior Mallorie Mitchem, the Falcons’ top returning girl who finished 13th overall at the Class 1A state championships, sat out due to tendinitis.