The South Whidbey girls cross country team placed fifth at state finals in eastern Washington on Saturday.
Erica Johnson led Falcon runners over the 3.1-mile course at 20 minutes, 33 seconds to place 20th out of a field of 139 athletes from around the state.
The race was held at Sun Willows Golf Course on the Columbia River in Pasco.
This was senior Johnson’s fourth and final appearance at state.
“I ran a personal best for the course,” she said. “The weather was almost too good; it began to get a little warm compared to Whidbey.”
Johnson said she felt sad knowing her high school career and the close bonding of the girls’ team, is over.
“I’ll miss them but it’s time to move on to a bigger competitive venue,” she said. She hopes to coach track and cross country after
Kingston’s Ruby Roberts was 2A state champion with a course-scorching 18:39; Sehome High School took top team honors.
South Whidbey’s Caroline Habel was just six seconds behind Johnson with 20:39 followed by Emily Martin (21:31), Cassie Bosman (21:31), Courtney Bosman (21:53), Jean Koelblinger (23:11) and Chantal White with 25:23.
Habel, too, was happy with her performance.
“I felt I had a good race,” she said. “We really pushed ourselves hard against some really accomplished runners.”
Habel’s only complaint was that the course had a lot of sharp turns.
“It forced us to slow down a bit,” she said.
“The girls finished three points from a top four podium finish,” Falcon coach Doug Fulton noted.
“We ran strong through about 2.5 miles then faded a bit down the home stretch. But the girls ran hard and gave it everything they had and I am proud of them,” he said.
This was freshman White’s first experience running at state.
“I came down with a bad cold but I ran anyway,” she said. “I was really excited to represent the school; the atmosphere with all those great runners was amazing.”
The girls missed the cut to mount the winner’s platform but were honored as state academic champs for their combined 3.912 grade point average.
“Any athlete is a representative of South Whidbey High School,” principal Rob Prosch said.
“It’s heroic when they excel on the field but when they excel academically, that is just outstanding. We believe our students should strive to be the best at everything they do.”
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbey