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Runnin’ through a crowd

Helen Strelow (365) and Cristina McGrath pound the trail Saturday at a 40-team cross country meet in Langley. (Photo by Mr. Anonymous)

Wolf boys attack as a group. (Jackie Saia photo)

Catherine Lhamon had Coupeville’s best finish on the day. (Saia photo)

Aidan Wilson matches a rival step for step. (Photo by Mr. Anonymous)

Alana Mihill (left) and Claire Mayne cruise home. (Photo by Mr. Anonymous)

Runners as far as the eye can see.

Or at least pretty close.

The revived Coupeville High School cross country program invaded the 41st Carl Westling Invitational in South Whidbey Saturday, one of 40 teams to make the trek.

The Wolf harriers, in their second season of bringing the school’s program back to life, sent 15 runners to the line, with a complete scoring team in both the girls and boys varsity races.

Coupeville’s runners and their (many, many) compatriots covered 5,000 meters in Langley, while competing in both varsity and JV races.

 

Complete CHS results:

GIRLS (varsity):

Catherine Lhamon (54th) 24:11.50
Alana Mihill (55th) 24:20.56
Claire Mayne (56th) 24:20.88
Helen Strelow (73rd) 25:57.86
Cristina McGrath (88th) 29:13.00

BOYS (varsity):

Mitchell Hall (101st) 19:53.56
Aidan Wilson (123rd) 20:38.59
Sam Wynn (136th) 21:26.80
Reiley Araceley (139th) 22:07.60
Cameron Epp (140th) 22:10.85
Tate Wyman (143rd) 22:50.00
Chris Ruck (146th) 23:30.00

BOYS (JV):

Alexander Wasik (98th) 23:04.91
Aiden Anderson (156th) 24:37.58
Eli Kastner (178th) 25:16.68

Aleksia Jump guns it while running Saturday at a cross country meet in Langley. (Morgan White photo)

Cole White (left) and Hank Milnes set a pace for each other. (Jackie Saia photo)

Brynn Parker heads into the woods. (Jackie Saia photo)

Eyes on the prize (or eyes on the paparazzi). (Morgan White photo)

Three Wolf boys claimed medals Saturday – Landon Roberts, Hank Milnes, and Cole White. (Morgan White photo)

They’re off.

The middle school cross country season officially opened for Coupeville Saturday, as Wolf coach Elizabeth Bitting took 16 runners down to Langley for the 41st Carl Westling Invitational.

The Wolves, who ran 1.7 miles, placed four runners in the top 20, with Hank Milnes busting into the top 10 with a 9th place finish.

For the first time, middle school races now include 6th grade runners along with 7th and 8th graders, as state officials approved the move for track and cross country.

While she didn’t have her full team, as a few athletes haven’t put in enough practices, and illness is creeping in to the school system, Bitting came away pleased with the first performance.

“With a handful of up and comers, the boys side is setting itself up real well for longevity in cross country for years to come,” she said. “On the girls side the depth will come, and they are setting themselves up for a solid team.

“All were happy with their performance today; I was ecstatic!,” Bitting added. “They performed beautifully! It was an awesome morning for some great running!!”

 

Complete CMS results:

GIRLS:

Erica McGrath (19th) 13:51.71
Teagan Calkins (22nd) 14:17.02
Edie Bittner (26th) 15:01.70
Aleksia Jump (33rd) 15:50.19
Brynn Parker (38th) 16:48.10
Aubrey Blitch (39th) 17:02.52

BOYS:

Hank Milnes (9th) 10:58.55
Cole White (13th) 11:01.84
Landon Roberts (14th) 11:02.71
George Spear (32nd) 12:06.96
Hayden Harry (43rd) 12:58.31
Malichi Somes (48th) 13:24.98
Jack Porter (52nd) 13:55.91
Johnny Porter (54th) 14:16.15
Thomas Strelow (56th) 14:26.10
Gabe Reed (67th) 19:00.20

Fear their fists of fury

Senior captain Scout Smith delivered 22 assists and four service aces Saturday as Coupeville volleyball mashed Chimacum, improving to 3-0 on the season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Maddie “The Mad Masher” Vondrak rattles the gym (and the soul of every rival player) with a knee-buckling spike. (Photo by Brian Vick)

Maddie Vondrak was on fire. Maybe literally.

At one point during her torrid performance Saturday afternoon, the Coupeville High School junior stepped back after smashing another wicked spike and fanned herself.

Now, maybe it was just that the gym was a little warm on a summer-like day and she had been bouncing around like a wild woman.

Or, maybe it was that Vondrak, who introduced her fists to Chimacum, did a mic check on both of them, then unleashed holy hell on the Cowboys, was so red-hot she was burning up from the inside out.

Probably the second choice.

Either way, with Vondrak and her teammates mashin’ the ever-livin’ crud out of the ball, Coupeville strolled to a straight-sets win in its home opener, improving to a flawless 3-0 on the season.

The non-conference victory, coming on the heels of victories at Friday Harbor and Anacortes, was fast, brutal, and a lot of fun for the Wolf fans who wandered in to the gym to see a show.

It played out to a crisp ‘n tasty 25-11, 25-12, 25-5 tune, full of lightning bolts disguised as service aces, and big, booming put-aways from a Wolf unit which utterly dominated at the net.

It started early in the first set, with Zoe Trujillo and Hannah Davidson delivering winners which blistered the skin of their rivals as they zinged by, smashed into the floor, then skidded out the side door.

Trujillo’s laser tore a chunk out of a Chimacum player’s unfortunate fingers, while Davidson’s blast crushed the back-line, tearing off flecks of paint as it shot away from the Cowboy defense.

Davidson, a volleyball and basketball standout who is rumored to be considering a return to softball for her senior swan song, was on point all afternoon from the service stripe, as well.

She turned the match from a semi-close affair to the start of a romp with her first run at the line, turning a 9-7 advantage into a 15-7 lead.

One ace was as artful as it was unexpected, a high, looping serve which touched the heavens (or the gym roof, at least), then dropped between two Chimacum players, kissing the floor with a gentle, happy plop.

Not that the power show was gone for long, as Vondrak flung herself skyward to reject a Cowboy return of a Davidson serve, with the ensuing spike slamming into the floor with the sound of a melon hitting the pavement after being thrown from the top of the Empire State Building.

At which point Vondrak whirled to the side, did a little bounce, a stamp on the floor as her teammates converged on her, then another twirl back around, a death mask slipping back down her face to hide the smile she otherwise wears 99.992% of the time.

Chimacum played the remainder of the match — it was in their contract — but the Cowboys were a lot more gun-shy after that, staying safely back from the net whenever possible.

Vondrak, hunched over, arms twirling, ready to unleash hot death ‘n destruction, stared straight ahead, her unspoken thoughts fairly easy to read from the stands.

“You can run, my little Cowboys, but you can’t hide. Mamma’s coming back and she’s bringing spankings for every one of you!!”

The second set was a lot more of what folks saw in the first.

Chimacum stayed competitive for a few points, continued to show a lot of hustle, but had no way of dealing with the laser show erupting from the other side of the net.

When it wasn’t Vondrak or Davidson, it was Maya Toomey-Stout sprinting around the court, then erupting skyward to unleash her own version of scorched Earth.

Or, Chelsea Prescott gliding in from the sides, dropping the hammer of the gods.

Or, Scout Smith, in mid-air, about to drop another perfect set-up for a teammate, and then, instead, corkscrewing her body while in flight, defying the physical laws of the universe itself and flicking a lil’ winner over the net and into an impossibly-small hole in the defense.

Everyone on the floor for the Wolves chipped in with something special, with Willow Vick, Lucy Sandahl and Raven Vick coming off the bench to peg sweet serves, while Kylie Chernikoff and Lucy Tenore, the net-minders of the future, displayed their own skills at slappin’ spikes.

If the first two sets had moments when things seemed sort of balanced between the teams, the third and final frame was all Coupeville, all the time.

Smith opened the set by running off nine straight points on her serve, before Prescott came around to deliver her own nine-point assault on Chimacum.

Up 19-1 at one point, the Wolves looked for their entertainment by upping the difficulty on some plays.

Coming hot on the heels of smashes from Toomey-Stout, who hung in the air for an impossible amount of time before zinging a winner, and Vondrak, who scorched the hardwood with her kill, CHS pulled off the rally of the afternoon.

It started with Smith running full-tilt off the right side of the court for save #1, picked up momentum when Emma Mathusek flung herself across the floor for save #2, then finished with Toomey-Stout delivering the coup de grĂ¢ce.

Roaring in to drive the final stake home, “The Gazelle” hit the ball so hard, if it didn’t pop, then a whole bunch of ear drums surely did.

And yet, with a match full of so much fury, the actual final point was a quiet, graceful one, with Prescott, moving like a ballet dancer, dropping an artfully-placed tip which found its resting place and refused to be returned.

Whether they used fury or grace, or some of both, the Wolf spikers filled up the stat sheet.

Vondrak finished with a team-high 10 kills, without a single error, which brought a particularly big smile to the face of Coupeville coach Cory Whitmore.

Prescott and Toomey-Stout chipped in with six kills apiece, while Mathusek (six digs), Davidson (six aces), and Vondrak (two solo blocks) topped other individual categories.

For Whitmore, the win was sweet, but the development of his players, both on and off the court, was bigger.

The Wolves hosted young volleyball players at a kids clinic earlier in the day, then ate lunch with the girls who will one day inherit their CHS uniforms.

Once on the floor, they seized momentum and pushed their advantages.

“We’re trying to develop the hitter/setter connection; we want to use a varied offense and be able to attack from multiple places and different directions,” Whitmore said. “We’re definitely making progress on that.

“It was also nice to see how the players responded to running the clinic,” he added. “It all made for a good Saturday – not a bad day at all.”

Eryn Wood got the assist on a late goal Saturday, propelling Coupeville to a 1-1 tie at home against 2A Kingston. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The home cooking paid off.

Back playing on their own pitch after a three-game road trip, the Coupeville High School girls soccer team pulled off a late rally Saturday, earning a tie which felt more like a win.

Despite missing four key starters — Avalon Renninger, Genna Wright, Mollie Bailey, and Mallory Kortuem — the 1A Wolves played 2A Kingston to a 1-1 draw.

The tie, coming in a non-conference game, lifts Coupeville to 0-4-1 on the season.

The two teams battled through a scoreless first half, before the Buccaneers broke the stalemate early in the second half on a goal which barely slipped past the Wolf defense.

Coupeville, coming off a 1-0 loss in its last game, didn’t buckle, however, charging back to get the answering goal with a hair over 15 minutes left in the match.

Eryn Wood set the play up, dropping a pass for Sophia Martin, who banged home her team-leading second goal of the season.

It was sweet payback for Martin, who had an earlier goal waved off when Coupeville was called for being off-sides.

With the game knotted at one, the Wolf defense clamped down and preserved the tie, kicking off a four-game home-stand for Coupeville.

The Wolves welcome Cedar Park Christian to town Tuesday, Sept. 24 for a North Sound Conference game, then return to action Sept. 28 against non-league foe Mount Vernon Christian.

 

JV gets its turn in the spotlight:

Coupeville’s second squad made its home debut, playing a fast-paced 7-on-7 version of soccer, and the young team hung tough in a 4-0 loss.

The Wolf JV sits at 0-2 on the season.

Most important was simply getting a chance to get on the pitch and do work.

“Nice to have JV out there getting playing time in,” said Coupeville coach Kyle Nelson. “Every player got a full game worth of playing time today.”

Ben Smith had an interception and a fumble recovery Friday night, though the reffing crew only upheld one. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Freshman Scott Hilborn (with ball), seen here in an earlier game, had two receptions Friday for 46 yards. (Stephanie Martin photo)

The refs were bad, often ridiculously so, that is true.

But they’re not the reason the Coupeville High School football team lost Friday night.

Give Friday Harbor some credit. They dictated play on both sides of the ball, abusing the Wolf defense and largely muffling its offense.

You don’t win 53-7, as the host Wolverines did, simply because the refs lost their rule book, their seeing-eye dogs, and their ability to form coherent thoughts.

Though that certainly doesn’t help.

However you cut it, Coupeville took a beating — often physically, as several key players were bruised and battered — and the Wolves will need to have short memories as they return home for a match-up next week with La Conner.

Now 1-2 during a season when all their games will be non-conference ones, CHS is not going to enjoy watching the game film from this jaunt to the far-flung San Juan Islands.

Friday Harbor rarely threw a pass, content to run, run some more, than keep on ramming the ball right through the heart of the Coupeville defense.

Four different Wolverine players hit pay-dirt with a rushing touchdown, with juniors Kyson Jackson (3) and Kaden Ritchie (2) combining to score the first five.

Toss in late scoring runs for Connor Haines and Mateo Blackmon, packaged around a defensive touchdown off a fumble recovery brought back 50+ yards, and Friday Harbor had little trouble scoring.

The hometown cheerleaders, who did push-ups for every point scored, got their own workout and may be as sore as Coupeville’s defenders are likely to be after the mauling.

There was a moment, very brief, when it appeared it might be a close game.

Down two scores, CHS found new life on offense and drove 62 yards in six plays for its lone score, cutting the margin to 14-7 with almost four minutes left in the first quarter.

The turnaround came thanks to a couple of precision passes from senior Wolf quarterback Dawson Houston, who hit three different receivers on the drive.

He opened with a slick pass to freshman Scott Hilborn, who made a sweet cutback on the ensuing run to shed several would-be tacklers en route to a 25-yard pick-up.

A catch over the middle by Sean Toomey-Stout picked up 19 more yards, before one of the few penalties called on Friday Harbor shoved Coupeville all the way down to the eight-yard line.

Houston pegged a ball to Gavin Knoblich, and the long ‘n lanky receiver reached behind himself while on the move to make a fairly sensational one-handed snag on the ball.

It was the third touchdown reception this season for the senior, and Coupeville was especially hurt later in the game when Knoblich went to the sideline after having his bell rung.

He never re-entered, and his absence put a huge crimp in the Wolf passing attack.

In the moment, after celebrating Knoblich’s catch, CHS added the extra point thank to a booming PAT kick off the foot of freshman Daylon Houston, and it looked like a back-and-forth affair might break out.

That was quickly squashed, however, as Friday Harbor scored the game’s final 39 points across the second and third quarters.

A short TD run by Ritchie pushed the deficit out to 20-7, and then the refs completely whiffed on a call which turned out to be a killer.

Unable to get its own offense moving downfield, Coupeville was forced to punt, and watched in horror as the kick was blocked.

That’s when things got weird.

As the ball came back down, a Friday Harbor player snatched it up out of mid-air, was hit and fumbled the ball, which was then recovered by Coupeville’s Ben Smith.

But, after a meeting of the “minds” by the reffing crew, Friday Harbor was handed the ball to the consternation of the Wolf coaches.

It wasn’t the most-livid the CHS staff would be – that came later, when Hilborn was decked on a blatant helmet-to-helmet shot while the entire reffing crew swallowed its whistles.

Until 15 seconds after the play was finished, when they handed out a penalty … to the Coupeville bench for protesting too much about the fact their freshman running back had just had his head ripped off on an illegal hit.

But while the refs certainly gave no favors to the Wolves, Friday Harbor does what Friday Harbor does – play hard every snap, hit ferociously on defense and pound away on offense.

Given the ball, they rammed it down the field, and there was little Coupeville could do on this night to stop the Wolverines.

When you collect less than 100 yards on offense as a team, while the other squad rips off 10 and 12-yard rambles on almost every run, you’re very, very likely to lose.

After Coupeville’s lone scoring drive, the Wolves only collected a handful of highlights.

Smith, bouncing back from having the fumble recovery taken away from him, pulled off his first high school interception, picking off a super-rare Friday Harbor pass right before halftime.

The Wolves also showed a nice bit of grit as a running clock blew out the fourth quarter.

For the one and only time in the game, Coupeville held Friday Harbor, forcing a turnover on downs, and they did it by stopping not a JV runner, but by stepping up and rejecting Ritchie as he tried to blast over the middle.

Wolf senior Andrew Martin, who gutted out a strong defensive effort in the trenches while battling through a variety of bumps, dinged knees and swollen hands, led the stand, body-slamming the Friday Harbor runner to the ground to end the drive.

Houston, who also delivered several long punts, completed five passes for 79 yards, accounting for virtually all of Coupeville’s offense, with Hilborn (2-46), Toomey-Stout (2-25), and Knoblich (1-8) his targets.

Martin was the top rusher, with 19 hard-earned yards against a Friday Harbor defense which offered few holes.