Falcons’ Lauren Sandri sprints her way to the future

She’s fast. Whether on the track, soccer field or basketball court, that’s what people say — Lauren Sandri can really travel. A three-sport senior, Sandri was a member of the Falcon track team that captured the 2A state champion title last May in the 200-meter relay race. She was second in the 100-meter relay, fifth in the 100-meter and sixth in the 200-meter run.

She’s fast.

Whether on the track, soccer field or basketball court, that’s what people say — Lauren Sandri can really travel.

A three-sport senior, Sandri was a member of the Falcon track team that captured the 2A state champion title last May in the 200-meter relay race. She was second in the 100-meter relay, fifth in the 100-meter and sixth in the 200-meter run.

“We knew that our best time was good but the actual feeling of winning that day was awesome,” she said.

“It was the high point of my time at South Whidbey High School. So far.”

Sandri’s sprint coach, Mark Eager, remembered that the Falcon 200-meter team was fastest coming in to state finals but ran a bad trial race, squeaking past Sequim by just 1/100th of a second for the eighth spot.

“The girls had to wait for almost an hour before they knew they were in and I gathered them over for damage control because they had a lot of racing yet to do. Lauren had three more races that day,” Eager said.

“The girls ended up crushing the field and set the school record, but nothing was more beautiful than seeing Lauren get the baton on the final leg and hearing an athlete from another school shout, ‘It’s over!’”

Sandri was born in California, the daughter of an Army lieutenant colonel. She moved around the country a lot before her father retired.

“My mom had spent time on the island so when he retired we moved here,” she recalled.

The Sandris settled on Whidbey in 1999 when Lauren was in the fourth grade. Today, Kevin Sandri is a background investigator for the government and mother Susan is co-artistic director for Whidbey Island Dance Theater.

“I’ve always loved sports,” she recalled. “My older brother played with his friends and I always wanted to join in.”

An early start

She began organized sports in kindergarten in Alameda, Calif. as a forward on a co-ed U-6 soccer team.

She finds it hard to name her favorite. “Soccer is special because we have to work as a team together and it’s a cool contact sport,” she said. “Running is great, combining individual effort with the team thing for relays.”

Falcon soccer coach Paul Arand said Sandri surprised him this year with the strength of her right kick.

“That power and her speed set her apart,” Arand said. “Her style is leading by example; she was co-captain with Grace Itaya and never failed to convey how serious she took each game.”

Surprisingly, Sandri has decided not to go out for basketball this winter.

“I’m going to get a part-time job and concentrate on track,” she said.

At school, Sandri enjoys history, English and art classes, especially drawing and ceramics. Though she hasn’t made any firm plans, she’s giving thought to pursuing life as an architect.

“It appeals to me, the idea of creating something beautiful yet functional,” she said.

Athlete and scholar

Sandri has turned heads in the classroom, as well. She has a 3.8 grade point average and, combined with her athletic ability, has colleges knocking on her door.

Including the Naval Academy, which has called twice.

She admitted that the science-heavy curriculum at the academy had little attraction for her.

“There are a lot of nice campuses out there, lots of options” she said. “Most of the schools calling have been interested in track.”

Off campus Sandri lets herself drift into the world of alternative rock, a nice counterpoint to her favorite novel, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry about a society that has eliminated pain and strife by converting to “Sameness,” a plan which has also eradicated emotional depth from their lives.

Her favorite flicks include eclectic opposites “Sin City,” “Dirty Dancing,” “The Jacket” and “Children of Men” — each one vastly different. As different as playing the drums and riding her snowboard; two of her favorite pastimes.

Former soccer teammate Rita Jones, now in college in Santa Barbara, Calif., said Sandri is a loyal friend.

“She made the varsity soccer team in her freshman year and we bonded on a bus trip,” Jones recalled.

“Lauren is uniquely intense when she’s on the field, letting her teammates know that anything less than their best is unacceptable.”

But she can be funny, too.

“She has an unparalleled sense of sarcasm that surfaces after you get to know her,” Jones said. “She makes me laugh.”

Her track coach knows Sandri can be reticent about her prowess on the track.

“Lauren is an athlete that dislikes attention and the focus on her,” Eager said. “She would much rather win and not talk about it later, leaving the focus on her teammates instead. She is uncomfortable having the spotlight on her.

“But great athletes get the spotlight whether they like it or not.”

One subject she isn’t shy talking about is the constant need to raise money for sports equipment.

“The school needs more resources,” she said. “We always seem to be borrowing things and submitting grants for better gear. We hold car washes for uniforms and goal posts.”

“The ASB and Kiwanis do their best to help us out but it’s always a struggle. It would be terrific if the district had the funds to support a world class sports program for boys and girls.”

Record setter

She fully acknowledges her intensity when competing.

Last spring, Sandri continually won gold medals all season in the 100- and 200-meter sprints and holds the all-time school and conference record.

As a junior, she was voted “most valuable player” on defense for the all-Cascade Conference second team in soccer.

The league knows who she is and the state knows who she is, Eager said.

“This is the year Lauren understands and accepts it and runs with it. This is the year Lauren will not be satisfied being the best in her conference. She has some bigger goals to accomplish.

“What’s great is how cordial she is to her competitors before and after the race,” Eager added. “She’s a great kid. But in between saying ‘Good luck’ before a race and her ‘Nice job’ afterward, she runs kids down with impunity like no sprinter in the history of South Whidbey.”

So how does she do that?

She’s really fast.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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