Once spring sports start up again, here is what to expect from the South Whidbey High School track and golf teams.
The other Falcon sports were featured in last Wednesday’s Record.
Six members of the South Whidbey High School boys track team that helped the Falcons finish second in the state 1A track meet in 2019 return this season.
On the girls side, four of the five Falcons who qualified for state also return.
In addition to being the state runner-up, the South Whidbey boys finished first in the North Sound Conference and second in the district and bi-district meets.
Two current Falcon seniors placed in three events at state last spring: Issiah Gonzales (fourth in high jump, sixth in triple jump, second in 4×100) and Bodie Hezel (sixth in 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles and 4×400).
Other state veterans are senior Kole Nelson (fifth in 110 hurdles, eighth in 300 hurdles), Codie Eager (eighth in 110 hurdles), Sam Martin (eighth in pole vault) and Billy Rankin (eighth in long jump).
Other returning letter winners are seniors Sam Baesler, Michael Harwell, Dylan Davis and Tyler King; juniors Luc Gandarias and Cooper Ullman; and sophomore Drew Larson.
The team’s strengths will be the jumps, anchored by Gonzales, Rankin and Martin; the hurdles behind state placers Hezel, Nelson and Eager; and the relays, according to coach Mark Eager.
Davis will lead the throwers, and Harwell and Ullmann give the Falcons a strong distance duo.
The South Whidbey girls were third in league, fifth in district, ninth in bi-district and 32nd at state last spring.
State qualifiers were seniors Mattason Straub (sixth in 100, 13th in 4×100), Karyna Hezel (13th in 4×100) and Mallory Drye (13th in 4×100) and junior Kaia Swegler Richmond (16th in 800).
Also earning letters last year were senior Mya Pratt; juniors Grace Huffman, Serena McLain, Natalie Monetti and Leanne Robbins; and sophomore Trinity Krouse.
The group will be buoyed by a strong freshman class, according to coach Eager.
The Falcons should be strong in the sprints with Straub and Drye, the distances with Swegler Richmond and the weights with Rachel Harder, who returns after being injured last year.
The relay squads should also be a team strength, according to Eager.
“As always, we hope to help kids improve throughout the season, develop into mature varsity athletes, successfully defend our conference championship and qualify as many athletes as possible for the state meet,” Eager said.
Four returning letter winners will form the core of the South Whidbey High School girls golf team this spring.
The Falcons will attempt to defend their North Sound Conference crown with a young squad that features no seniors and only one junior.
The one junior is Tori Schuller, a first-team, all-North Sound Conference selection last spring and daughter of new coach Paul Schuller.
Tori Schuller went on to finish 50th in the state tournament.
Also back are sophomores Bella Pierce, Laci Pihlmand and Caitlin Sullivan.
Key newcomers, according to coach Schuller, are freshmen Payton Currier and Ava Fry.
“(We) lost conference player of year Emma Leggett and state championship participant Alyssa Ludtke from the conference champions, so it will be a fun year to work our way back to the top,” coach Schuller said. “(We) hope to battle for the top spot as South Whidbey has for some time now.”
He added that his team is made up of a “great group of girls” who are “making great progress every day.”
“Only a week into it, so we shall see what the golf gods bestow upon us on the greens.”
If the South Whidbey High School boys golf team wants to defend its North Sound Conference crown, it will have to do it with an almost entirely new team.
Only two lettermen return for the Falcons: Max Rodriquez, last year’s Rookie of the Year, and Tasman Dussault.
Coach Steve Jones will turn to a big freshman class to help fill out his roster: Evan Chappelle, Nolan Edwards, Forrest Erickson, Ryder Mulcahy and Kaiden Wilson.
“We have a young and inexperienced group, but they are all very eager to learn the great game of golf,” Jones said. “The boys are attentive, athletic and very coachable. I also appreciate their positive attitudes and cohesiveness.”
One of Jones’ goals for his team is for “each player to gain an appreciation for the subtle nuances of golf.”
“They are learning a sport which can be enjoyed for a lifetime,” he said. “Additionally, I want each player to improve his basic skills and course management, which will translate to lower scores. Most importantly, I want the boys to have fun and create positive memories.”