They could feel them gaining.
The Falcon girls cross country team knew the girls from King’s were right on their heels during the Cascade Conference championships at Lakewood High School Saturday.
But with a little help from freshman Emily Martin, South Whidbey defeated last year’s state champion by 42-48 for their fourth straight Cascade Conference championship.
“Chantal (White) was on the trail ahead of me in fifth place,” Martin recalled. “She was having an asthma attack and Coach (Doug) Fulton said I had to move it up from sixth; I tried to push myself to keep up. I thought we lost, but we beat ’em.”
Martin ran a personal best of 20 minutes, 55 seconds to help teammates Caroline Habel (20:36), Cassie Bosman (20:37), Erica Johnson (20:40) and Courtney Bosman (20:54) secure another South Whidbey championship.
The top five Falcons finished within 19 seconds of each other for five of the top 12 spots and the victory.
“Emily stepped up and ran a great race,” Fulton said.
The Falcons came into the race ranked No. 2 in the latest 2A state coaches’ poll but Fulton said the end result wasn’t one of his team’s more shining moments.
“It wasn’t our best effort but we hung on,” Fulton said.
The 3.1-mile Lakewood course was wet and muddy and overall progress was slower than last year.
“A lot of the grass was torn up,” Habel said.
“The course was slow as we ran over a soccer field and trails twice. We were worried we weren’t going to make it but we did. They were right behind us.”
The Falcon boys did well, too, taking second behind Lakewood, 70-21.
For the Falcons, Trevor Martin crossed the line in 17:58 followed by Blake Koszarek(17:59), Scott Stallman (18:11), and Dean Freundlich (18:14), while Ben Saari and Jensen Connor crossed together for the fifth spot in 18:17.
Team scores for the girls were: South Whidbey, 42; King’s, 48; Cedarcrest, 80; Lakewood, 100; Archbishop Murphy, 105 and Granite Falls, 136.
For the boys: Lakewood, 21; South Whidbey, 70; King’s, 78; Cedarcrest, 83; Granite Falls,149; Sultan, 178 and Archbishop Murphy, 193.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 dozens of major cross country schools will gather at Waterman Field for the Northwest District meet.
Habel added the finals are important.
“We want to run against the top teams in the state and see how we do,” she said. “Sehome, Bellingham, Burlington-Edison — they’ll all be there.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or www.southwhidbeyrecord.com.