Boys cross country ranked in state top 10

Falcon junior cross country runner Justin Gonzales reaches the final stretch of the Bellevue Invitational on Sept. 26.

Falcon senior Evan Mellish didn’t know what his time was.

Though, that’s how the South Whidbey cross country coaches prefer it.

So, when Mellish did eventually cross the finish line at the Bellevue Invitational on Sept. 26, it came as a surprise when he learned he had just beaten his personal best by 44 seconds.

“I got out of the chute, bent over trying not to throw up, and they’re like, ‘Evan! You just got a 40-second (personal record).’ And I was like, what?’ ” Mellish said. “I was just shooting for 18 minutes.”

Mellish finished the 5,000-meter course in 17 minutes and 24 seconds, placing 25th at the meet, but also recording the 21st fastest time in Class 1A this year. The senior missed almost all of the 2014 season with a broken foot, but has bounced back by recording personal bests in two consecutive meets, after finishing 15th at the South Whidbey Invitational with a time of 18 minutes and six seconds.

“If you would have talked to me my freshman year and said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be running almost 17-flat at the start of senior year,’ I wouldn’t have thought I’d be here,” Mellish said.

Mellish leads a South Whidbey boys cross country team that is currently ranked 10th in 1A.

“We’re just going to keep building,” said Falcon head cross country coach Doug Fulton. “We’re not training for any of these meets, we’re training through them. It was a hard week last week. They ran fatigued.”

Mellish has been steadily improving all year, according to Falcon head cross country coach Doug Fulton.

“He ran well and strong. The key is he’s healthy,” Fulton said. “You keep building, building and you get faster, but when you’re injured you can’t. He’s running strong. It’s exciting and he’s excited.”

Falcon junior Justin Gonzales finished the course in 18 minutes and six seconds, matching Mellish’s time from a week before and improving upon his own personal best by 15 seconds.

Junior Cory Ackerman recorded a time of 18 minutes and 14 seconds, junior Will Simms finished in 18 minutes and 39 seconds and junior Collin Burns ran in 19 minutes and 18 seconds.

Lakeside sits atop the boys Class 1A rankings, while Northwest Academy, which competes in South Whidbey’s district, is ranked second.

Falcon senior girls runner Mallorie Mitchem returned to action after recovering from injury. Mitchem, who placed 13th overall at last year’s state championship meet, wasn’t concerned about running a fast time or placing high. She simply wanted to see where she was and make sure her body was capable of handling the workload.

“It was nice to run again,” Mitchem said. “It’s more of a just running-and-getting-back-a-race-under-my-belt; just making sure I didn’t feel any pain while running was the main goal.”

Sophomore Elizabeth Donnelly was the top Falcon girls runner with a time of 21 minutes and 21 seconds. She improved upon her 2014 time at the course by over 20 seconds.

Fellow Falcon sophomore Annika Hustad finished in 23 minutes and 48 seconds and improved her 2014 time by over a minute.

Senior Clara Martin ran the course in 25 minutes and 41 seconds.

The Falcons will travel to Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville to compete in the Twilight Invite on Saturday.