On any given afternoon, Waterman Field is jumping. Literally.
This spring season 60 athletes tried out for the various events on the track and field menu offered by South Whidbey High School — boys and girls teams are divided into running, jumping and throwing events.
Sprints include the 100/200/400 meter runs, 100/110/300 meter hurdles, 400/800/1600 meter relays plus middle distance events at 800/1600/3200 meters. Jumping competition include the long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault. The throwers have their choice of discus, shot and javelin.
Each athlete can participate in a maximum of four events.
“Things are going really well so far,” said distance runner Katy Gordon. “We’re off to a great start, especially with so many experienced runners.”
Now in his 18th track season (10 years at South Whidbey), Falcons Head Coach Doug Fulton found the energy level the highest he’s seen in years.
“These kids show great promise in a variety of events,” he said. “Jason (Fitz) has recovered fully from last year’s hamstring problems and has a serious shot at qualifying for state in the hurdles.”
Although Chandler Thompson recently broke his wrist snowboarding, he and Fitz are “the backbone of the team.”
Fulton noted that Marco Plastino and Jon Poolman as core sprinters the boys team will fill several events that were missed last year.
Fitz really is ready.
“I’m in way better shape than I was at the same time last year,” he said on his way to practice Thursday. In the 110-meter hurdles he’s aiming for 14.9 seconds and 40-flat for the 300-meter hurdles.
“And it’s nice having a full guy’s team that will be competitive in relays, distance events and sprints,” Fitz said.
For senior Matt Long, the goal is the magic 13 feet, 3 inches — the height he hopes to achieve vaulting the pole. Because his venue wasn’t set up on time, Long has been working out with the sprinters. But with wrestling finished three weeks ago he’s in good shape.
“I’m excited to get going; my personal best last year was 11 feet and my goal is to inch it up another 2 feet,” Long said.
He’ll be joined by freshman Ann Hefflinger; together they are the entire Falcon pole vault squad.
For the girls, Fulton is expecting good things from Gordon, the Bosman twins, Erica Johnson, Caroline Habel and Jean Koelblinger.
Emma Ruggiero will shine on discus and Caitilyn Larmore the javelin.
Even though South Whidbey is now classified 2A, the teams they’ll face are some of the best in the Northwest. “Sehome, Bellingham and Burlington-Edison are all strong contenders,” Fulton said.
Fulton points to the school’s tradition of excellence. The boys were Cascade League champions from 2000 to 2004 (and took the state title in 2004) and were District One champs in 2003 and 2004. The girls have placed no worse than sixth at state since the century turned.
But Fulton can’t do it all and credits his volunteer coaching staff.
“If it weren’t for the volunteer coaches we’d be up a creek without a paddle,” he said. “They give our kids the attention and instruction they need to be successful.”
Among them are the school’s former 800M record holder Dean Hatt and 110M high hurdles record holder Chad Felgar (soon to take over as coach at the middle school), who is coaching Fitz. Craig Stelling is a former Falcon javelin thrower and All-American at Pacific Lutheran University. Mark Cook is guiding the long distance runners while Mark Eager is doing the same for sprinters and Jeff Greene the throwers.
At 3:45 p.m. March 15, the team hosts a jamboree to determine if all the training activity has been on target.