The South Whidbey girls, center, take off at the beginning of the state cross country finals Saturday. (Photo by Karen Swegler)

The South Whidbey girls, center, take off at the beginning of the state cross country finals Saturday. (Photo by Karen Swegler)

Falcons shine at state meet / Cross country

“It was a great day for the Falcons in Pasco,” South Whidbey High School cross country coach Doug Fulton said after the state meet Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Sun Willows Golf Course.

The South Whidbey boys finished fourth and the girls eighth, as the Falcons added more pages to their scrapbook of state accomplishments. As teams, the Falcon girls have qualified for 29 state meets and the boys 19.

Coming into the season, the boys set goals of defending their league title, winning district and reaching the state podium, which requires a top-four finish.

They applied the final check to the list with Saturday’s state effort.

The state race plan, according to Fulton, was for leader senior Michael Harwell to run with the top 25 through the first mile, and the junior pack — the next four runners — to settle in around 40th-50th, then make a big push at the end.

At the first mile mark, the Falcons were in sixth place, 60 points out of fourth. After the second mile, South Whidbey was still in sixth but only 39 points behind the fourth-place team. Over the final mile, the Falcons made up the difference and finished eight points ahead of fifth place Cascade of Leavenworth.

Harwell took 24th (16:50.6), Reilly McVay 33rd (17:00.4), Thomas Simms 35th (17:02.9), Aidan Donnelly 41st (17:09.3), Cooper Ullmann 43rd (17:10.3), Aiden O’Brien 89th (17:47) and Trent Hogarth 117th (18:16) out of 155.

The top five scored points for South Whidbey and ran an average of 17:03 (with just a 21-second gap between the five), the second-best in school history behind the 1999 squad’s 16:46.

“Reilly had a breakout race, placing second for us today,” Fulton said. “Thomas passed 12 runners over the last mile; Aidan Donnelly and Cooper paced each other over the last mile; (and) Aidan O’Brien had a season best and Trent Hogarth a career best.”

Lakeside (Nine Mile) won the boys title with 92 points; South Whidbey had 137.

Adam Briejer of Charles Wright was the individual champion in 15:50.6.

The South Whidbey boys finished 11th at state in 2018.

The Falcon girls came into the race ranked 14th and with a goal of topping last fall’s 12th-place finish.

“With great determination and smart racing, they placed eighth, beating three of the teams who topped them in the district meet: Northwest, Bush and Lynden Christian,” Fulton said.

Deer Park won the girls race with 98 points; the Falcons tallied 214.

Junior Kaia Swegler Richmond finished sixth after running in 14th place after the first mile. Her time of 19:03 is sixth-best in school history at state and the quickest since 1997.

Alaina Stone of Colville captured the individual title with a time of 17:39.6.

Falcon senior Flannery Friedman, running in her fourth state meet, improved from 83rd after the first mile to finish 52nd out of 149 in a personal-best 21:01.3.

She was followed by Grace Huffman, who cut a minute off her 2018 state time with a 21:31.1 to get 81st, one spot ahead of first-year runner Jasmin Graner, who posted a PR 21:32.5.

Natalie Rodriquez was 102nd in a season-best 22:01, and Laila Gmerek took 110th in a personal best 22:29.

The top individual finish by a Falcon Saturday went to junior Luc Gandarias, who was second in the inaugural ambulatory 5K championship race with a 21:49. Sehome’s Kai Ocheltree won in 21:04.4.

Swegler Richmond and the top eight boys qualified for the Nike Team National Regional XC Meet in Boise Saturday, Nov. 16.

Boys start. (Photo by Matt Simms)

Boys start. (Photo by Matt Simms)

Flannery Friedman.	(Photo by Matt Simms)

Flannery Friedman. (Photo by Matt Simms)

Luc Gandarias, left, and assistant coach Scott Warwick.	(Photo by Karen Swegler)

Luc Gandarias, left, and assistant coach Scott Warwick. (Photo by Karen Swegler)

Jasmin Graner (1374). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

Jasmin Graner (1374). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

Michael Harwell. (Photo by Karen Swegler)

Michael Harwell. (Photo by Karen Swegler)

Grant Hogarth (373). (Photo by Matt Simms)

Grant Hogarth (373). (Photo by Matt Simms)

Grace Huffman (1375).	(Photo by Matt Simms)

Grace Huffman (1375). (Photo by Matt Simms)

Kaia Swegler Richmond (1380).	(Photo by Matt Simms)

Kaia Swegler Richmond (1380). (Photo by Matt Simms)

Reilly McVay (376). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

Reilly McVay (376). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

Aidan O’Brien (377).	(Photo by Matt Simms)

Aidan O’Brien (377). (Photo by Matt Simms)

Aidan Donnelly (372), Thomas Simms (378) and Cooper Ullmann (379). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

Aidan Donnelly (372), Thomas Simms (378) and Cooper Ullmann (379). (Photo by Bob O’Brien)

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