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Makana Stone, forever a force of nature. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Every bucket, every rebound, every moment of on-court brilliance built to this.

Two days after graduating from Whitman College, Coupeville’s Makana Stone received her school’s highest athletic honor Tuesday morning.

The former Wolf, who finished as the #5 scorer and #2 rebounder in Blues women’s basketball history, received the Mignon Borleske Award.

The honor recognizes a graduating senior student-athlete for “their career athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus and community as a whole.”

Stone shared the honor with Blues tennis player Andrea Gu, a three-time All-American.

Robert Colton, a Whitman men’s basketball star, received the R.V. Borleske Award, which is given to the school’s top male athlete.

The winners receive a plaque, while their names are added to a display in the athletic department’s Hall of Fame.

The awards are named for a couple who arrived on campus in 1915, then had a huge impact on the growth of the school.

Raymond Borleske, a former Whitman football and baseball player, became a long-time coach, while Mignon Borleske taught dance and women’s education classes at the school for nearly 40 years.

Stone, a 2016 CHS grad, became a starter for the Blues midway through her freshman season, and rarely left the court after that.

She finished with the most starts (92) in program history, and she and fellow seniors Mady Burdett, Lily Gustafson, Natalie Whitesel, and Katie Stahl compiled a 94-20 record during their time in Walla Walla.

That was the most wins for a graduating class in the long and prestigious history of Whitman women’s basketball.

Their success included three trips to the NCAA D-III national tourney, and Whitman was hours away from playing in the Sweet 16 at this year’s event when COVID-19 shut down collegiate athletics.

Stone finished her run in a Blues uniform with 1,337 points and 837 rebounds.

She was named the Northwest Conference MVP as a senior, was selected for the Beyond Sports Women’s Collegiate All-Star Game, and received All-Region and All-American honors.

When she wasn’t excelling on the hardwood, Stone participated in the Whitman College mentor program, was an ACE representative, and served as a member of the Whitman Elementary School Science Night Committee.

Using her time well, Coupeville’s progeny was also a presenter at the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, while obtaining multiple internships.

Coupeville High School cross country coach Luke Samford, seen here with Catherine Lhamon, has moved to Kansas. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Add another job opening to the list.

Coupeville High School will need to hire two new head coaches before the fall sports season begins – if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic allows athletics to restart.

Wolf boys soccer coach Kyle Nelson has already stepped down from his position, and now CHS cross country guru Luke Samford is making a similar move.

Samford, who is also an assistant track and field coach, confirmed he has moved to Kansas with wife Hayley.

The decision was based on their jobs, and the cost of living difference between the states.

A former NCAA D-I athlete, Samford coached college runners for seven years before moving to Whidbey Island.

In his one season at the helm of the recently-revived CHS harrier team, he radically increased the number of participants in the program, and helped guide Wolf junior Catherine Lhamon to the state meet.

After much success through the early ’90s, Coupeville shut down its cross country program and it went dormant for two decades.

While a handful of Wolf runners such as Tyler King and Danny Conlisk trained and traveled with other schools over the years, with King winning a state title in 2010, the sport didn’t fully return to the school until 2018.

Natasha Bamberger, who won a state cross country title for CHS in 1985, coached the Wolves in their first season back, then stepped aside to focus on her real-world job.

Now, after Samford’s departure, Lhamon and Co. will have their third head coach in as many years.

After a standout career at Coupeville High School on the soccer pitch and track oval, Mallory Kortuem will run in college, as well. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

In a non-pandemic world, Mallory Kortuem would be running for a state title next weekend.

The Coupeville High School senior, who holds four school track and field records, finished 2nd in the 400 last spring and would have been the odds-on favorite to wear the 1A girls crown this year.

While schools being shut down by COVID-19 prevented her from making a triumphant return to Eastern Washington, it’s not the end of Kortuem’s track career, however.

She has signed a letter of intent to run for Western Washington University, an NCAA D-II school, and will receive a partial scholarship.

The Vikings compete out of the 11-school Great Northwest Athletic Conference, which also includes Central Washington University and Seattle Pacific University.

Kortuem knows she’ll be running in the 400 for WWU, which has indoor and outdoor track seasons. After that, things are wide open.

“I am planning on trying the 200 as well, and I might be put on a 4 x 400 team,” she said.

“I have also been interested in trying the 800, which I would have tried this year, but I did not get the chance,” Kortuem added. “All I know for sure by the coaches is the 400.”

Mom Heather smooches the youngest of her three superstar children.

In between practices and meets, the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famer will study kinesiology, and may go into graduate school after her time at Western.

During her time at CHS, Kortuem was a standout soccer player as well as track and field star.

She departs holding school records in the 400 (58.02) and pole vault (8-10), while also being part of record-setting 4 x 100 (50.54) and 4 x 200 (1:46.13) relay squads, with all of those marks set during her junior campaign.

Kortuem earned four state meet medals through her junior season, one of just seven girls in CHS history to reach that mark since the school opened in 1900.

A college track career begins with putting pen to paper on your letter of intent. (Photo courtesy Kortuem)

Aram Leyva joins big bro Abraham and cousin Derek in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Same family, different playing styles, similar results.

Cousins Aram and Derek Leyva followed a trail of success blazed by Aram’s big brother, Abraham, but will be remembered for what they personally accomplished.

The duo were as talented as any soccer players ever to wear the red and black for Coupeville High School, and only a pandemic shutting down state schools could slow them down on the pitch.

Derek, who tallied 38 goals in just two seasons at CHS, finishes as the #2 scorer in Wolf boys soccer history, denied a senior season in which he likely would have passed Abraham, who hit the back of the net 45 times between 2014-2016.

While he might not have the career record, Derek does hold the CHS boys single-season mark, having made rival goalies look silly while recording 24 goals during his sophomore season.

No slouch himself, Aram rang up 29 goals of his own across three seasons, before he too lost his senior campaign to the pandemic.

Derek Leyva owns the Wolf boys soccer single-season scoring record.

On the pitch, Derek was a burst of silky lightning, often flying past defenders, then snapping their ankles with quick cut-backs, all while flicking the ball along like he was operating a yo-yo.

Let’s face it – I’m not a soccer expert.

I don’t always understand the subtle nuances of the beautiful game, or always properly appreciate the sport, but that didn’t stop me from responding to most of his eye-popping plays with a long, slow “Damn … Derek!”

And he wasn’t just a star on the pitch, returning to the same field to captivate people with his play on the football gridiron as well.

We knew Derek had a leg capable of launching the ball, regardless of the sport, so seeing him make his debut as a kicker felt right.

But, surprise!

He also had other skills, whether as a receiver on offense or operating as a defensive back, and it would have been nice to see him get more than the handful of games he ultimately played.

One game, or a series of them, didn’t matter, however.

Derek is that rare Coupeville athlete who operates on a higher plain, and we should appreciate whatever exploits we were allowed to enjoy.

Derek Leyva, on his way to ringing up another goal.

Same with Aram, who was a rough ‘n tumble dude while in action, in the best way possible.

Early on, he competed in track and field, and messed people up on the basketball court, but it was soccer, the family sport, where his star shone brightest.

Aram has a light touch with the ball, and can flick shots into the corner of the net, an inch away from a madly-scrambling goalie, just like his brother and cousin.

But he can also — and this is my favorite part of his game — run right over multiple defenders, carving a path of destruction as he rumbles to pay dirt.

Every time Aram took the pitch, the Wolf captain seemed to seek out contact, the harder the better.

The first time he backs down from a rival team, regardless of what pampered private school they hail from, well … that will be the first time, cause it never happened during his CHS days.

There’s a photo of Aram from back in his youth league days, and in it, he’s flinging two defenders airborne as he bulls his way to the ball, an unstoppable force of fury who happens to be smiling as he makes the turf rumble.

It’s kind of beautiful.

Aram Leyva, a pitch powerhouse.

It would have been great for the Leyva lads to get one more go-round in CHS uniforms this spring, Derek’s silky speed and Aram’s bone-crunching fury meshing together to decimate anyone stupid enough to stand in their way.

It didn’t happen, which is too bad, but a lost season does nothing to detract from the legacy they leave behind.

Future Wolf soccer players, both those who played alongside them, and those who will arrive in years to come, should aim to play like the duo. That is the route to success.

For today, we honor what they accomplished by inducting them into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, where they’ll join Abraham.

After this, take a gander at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, and you’ll find all three Leyva men right where they belong.

They earned enshrinement with every eye-popping goal, every perfectly-placed pass, every brilliant play, every rugged display of “this is my frickin’ pitch, and YOU need to move!”

The gold standard for CHS soccer? Without a doubt.

Maddie Georges was third in scoring for the Wolf varsity basketball squad during her freshman season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A broken ankle kicks off Mad Dog’s summer. (Suzan Georges photos)

On the mend.

One of Coupeville’s most-promising young athletes will kick off summer vacation in a boot.

Maddie Georges, who was third on the Wolf varsity squad in scoring during her freshman basketball season, broke her left ankle Saturday.

Mad Dog was a top JV volleyball player right out of the gate, and is the heir apparent to the soon-to-be-graduated Scout Smith at setter for the CHS varsity volleyball program.

Georges then made a huge breakthrough on the hardwood, jumping from being a vital part of an undefeated middle school hoops team in 8th grade to becoming a starter for the Wolf varsity midway through her freshman campaign.

Coupeville’s deadliest three-ball threat, she joined Smith in running the offense, while racking up 86 points.

That left her trailing just Smith (148) and junior Chelsea Prescott (110) on the season scoring chart.

When spring came, Georges also made the CHS varsity softball roster, only to see her season end before it began thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down Washington state schools.

Now, three months ahead of a new high school volleyball season — if prep sports return on time — Mad Dog is on the mend.

The good news is the injury seems fairly uncomplicated.

“A clean break,” said mom Suzan Georges. “So much for softball and on to healing for volleyball and basketball. Girl’s got some serious PT in her future.

“Huge thanks to all the ER doctors, nurses, and X-ray tech,” she added. “We were in and out in less then an hour and a half.”