The South Whidbey High School cross country team is consistently among the Washington’s best.
The Falcon girls have qualified for the state meet 27 times and the boys 17.
“Both teams have a great opportunity to add to that total (this year),” coach Doug Fulton, who is in his 22nd season, said. That optimism was buoyed by a strong commitment to summer training.
“Our best turnout in years,” Fulton said.
The Falcon girls not only have an outstanding chance to qualify for state again in 2018, but could finish among the state leaders.
South Whidbey, which placed 10th as a team last year, lost only one runner to graduation and returns six who competed in the 1A championships.
Among those returning are sophomore Kaia Swegler Richmond (14th at state, second among freshman), senior Alex Kurtz (55th), junior Flannery Friedman (95th) and sophomores Natalie Rodriguez (104th) and Serena McLain (114).
Swegler Richmond also earned first-team, all-Cascade Conference honors; Kurtz was second team.
Senior Grace Complita is a key newcomer, according to Fulton.
The South Whidbey boys team, which was extremely young last year, also lost only one runner to graduation.
The top returnee is junior Michael Cepowski, who placed 46th at state.
Other returning letter winners are sophomores Thomas Simms, Aidan O’Brien, Reilly McVay, Aidan Donnelly and Cooper Ullman.
Key newcomers are seniors Eli Waldron and Matthew Simmons and freshman Drew Larson, who was fourth in the middle school championships last year.
Fulton listed four goals for his squad: team grade point average of 3.5; being consistent in training, recovery and nutrition; preparing for and enjoying each day; and being their best during the postseason.
“A successful season is one in which we honor our goals and put ourselves in the position to move on in the postseason,” Fulton said.
The Falcons will compete in the North Sound Preview Meet hosted by Granite Falls at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.