South Whidbey boys defend league title / Cross country

For the second consecutive season, the South Whidbey boys cross country team finished unbeaten against league foes as the Falcons won the North Sound Conference meet Saturday, Oct. 26, at Lakewood High School.

The South Whidbey girls were a close second in the championship meet for the second straight year.

The Falcon boys ran wearing blue wristbands in honor of former coach Tim Gordon, who led the Falcons from the early 1990s until 2000. Gordon, who died unexpectedly two weeks ago, helped South Whidbey finish second in state in 2000 and third in 1999.

The inspired Falcons placed five runners in the top eight to run away with the boys North Sound Conference crown with 26 points. King’s was a distant second with 55.

Michael Harwell (16:52), Aidan Donnelly (17:08.7) Thomas Simms (17:08.8) and Cooper Ullmann (16:16.1) went 3-4-5-6 out of 82. Reilly McVay (17:31.2) was eighth.

Granite Falls’ Isaac Cortez won, covering the 5,000-meter course in 16:10.6.

The first four Falcons earned first-team, all-conference honors. McVay and Trent Hogarth (12th, 18:29) established personal-bests and were second-team selections.

Leon Preston (15th, 18:31.7), Aidan O’Brien (18th, 18:43.9) and Drew Larson (20th, 18:47.6) also finished in the top 20.

“Michael battled up front and ran a solid race,” coach Doug Fulton said. “We have developed a nice pack of four juniors who worked really well together today.”

South Whidbey’s Kaia Swegler Richmond placed second out of 32 in the girls race in 19:23.

King’s Naomi Smith, the defending state champion, won the race in 17:29.7 and led the Knights (31 points) to the team title. The Falcons earned 36.

Swegler Richmond was followed by teammates Grace Huffman (seventh, 21:29.7), Flannery Friedman (ninth, 22:01.9), Jasmin Graner (10th, 22:08.4), Natalie Rodriguez (12th, 22:39), Laila Gmerek (16th, 213:52.6), Lara Napoli (26th, 25:5) and Mary Moss (27th, 26:05).

“The girls ran with a lot of confidence today, just getting edged by King’s,” Fulton said. “Grace Huffman had a breakout race…She led our improving pack, behind Kaia, to season-best marks.

“Kaia had a solid run in second and she and Grace earned first-team, all-conference honors, Flannery, Jasmine and Natalie earned second team all-conference honors.”

South Whidbey hosts the bi-district meet next week. The girls 1A race starts at 1:20 and the boys at 2:35 p.m.

The top five girls teams and 35 individuals and the top four boys teams and 28 individuals qualify for the state meet.

In addition to the 1A teams, South Whidbey will host the 1B, 2B, 3A and 4A district races Saturday.