When South Whidbey sophomore Kristopher Dixon lined up for the 110-meter hurdles race on Thursday afternoon, he didn’t feel any pressure.
To his left and right were teammates Larsen Christiansen and Kole Nelson. The fact that the Falcons were competing against Cedarcrest that day meant little, as only South Whidbey athletes were competing in Dixon’s race. He didn’t view this as a bad thing, and instead accepted that the race would be more of a practice than anything.
After the starter pistol blew, the three Falcons took off and raced toward the finish. Dixon finished first with a time of 16.82 seconds. Despite the modest nature of the race, Dixon’s mark ultimately catapulted him onto Athletic.net’s top-10 leaderboards in class 1A.
Dixon wasn’t alone in reaching the leaderboards.
As small of a track and field meet as it was Thursday afternoon, a number of other Falcon athletes made strides on the class 1A state rankings.
The girls 4×100-meter relay team’s winning time of 52.09 earned them the second best time in the state. The team includes Anna Leski, Alexandra Kurtz, Mikayla Hezel and Bailey Forsyth.
Junior Elizabeth Donnelly also climbed to fifth in the 800 meters with a time of 2:29.17, while her teammate junior Sophia Nielsen reached the same ranking in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 49.76 seconds. Nielsen also holds the top long jump mark in the state (16 feet, five inches).
Forsyth, a senior, ran the 100 meters in 12.90 seconds which moves her up to sixth in the state. Senior Sophia Morgan is also ranked sixth in the 3,200 meters with her winning time of 12 minutes and one second. Also in the top 10 are junior Emma Barker (ninth, pole vault), junior Makeda Browne (ninth, discus), the girls 4×200 meter relay (fourth, 1:52.64) and girls 4×400 meter relay (third, 4.20.99). Another Falcon athlete currently in the top 10 is boys high jumper Issiah Gonzalez, who is ranked seventh.
The girls team defeated the Red Wolves 82-51, while the boys were edged out 78-66. South Whidbey won a combined 21 events.
Dixon was among the promising freshmen on the 2016 track and field team. He qualified for the class 1A state track and field championships in the 300-meter hurdles, but was unable to reach the final heat to place in the top eight. This season has been sobering in a way for Dixon, who has come to realize that age isn’t a magic wand that improves an athlete’s abilities.
“When I was a freshman, I thought next year I’ll have everything solid, I’ll know exactly what I’m doing,” Dixon said. “I’ve done workouts and everything for it, but I don’t feel like I’m a professional or anything like that.”
Dixon said he hopes to improve his times by focusing on his technique, form and overall confidence.
Nielsen, the top long jumper in the state, was a jack-of- all-trades on Thursday. She competed in the long jump, 100 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4×400 meter relay. As it turned out, Nielsen was the only runner in the 100 hurdles race. Nielsen said that while some people might relax in that sort of situation, she felt compelled to try even harder.
“For me, I feel like I’m all alone and everyone is watching me so there’s more pressure,” Nielsen said. “I did mess up. My foot hit the top of the hurdle and so my steps got a little messed up at the end, but it’s OK.”
Nielsen said she’s happy with her improvements so far this season, but also noted that she doesn’t place a cap on her progression.
South Whidbey senior thrower Chase Barthlett was unchallenged in both the shot put and discus, finishing first in both. His throw of 42 feet, 2.5 inches on Thursday moved him up to 20th in the state, while he is ranked 27th in the discus.
“Like my coach said, it’s a glorified practice,” Barthlett said. “I knew coming in that most of throwers weren’t at where I’m at right now.”
Barthlett has not yet been to state. He believes that if he can improve his distances in the shot put to 45 feet, he can contend for qualification.