After working as an assistant at Oak Harbor High School, Cory Whitmore has taken over the Coupeville volleyball program. (John Fisken photos)

   After working as an assistant at Oak Harbor High School, Cory Whitmore has taken over the Coupeville volleyball program. (John Fisken photos)

The Wolves return almost their entire roster from a season ago, including (l to r) Emma Smith, Lauren Rose and Katrina McGranahan.

   The Wolves return almost their entire roster from a season ago, including (l to r) Emma Smith, Lauren Rose and Katrina McGranahan.

Excitement is in the air.

Coming off of its first postseason win in a decade, the Coupeville High School volleyball squad returns virtually its entire roster, welcomes a new head coach whose energy is contagious and will play two-thirds of its matches at home.

After two strong seasons under Breanne Smedley, who moved back home to take over the Columbia River program, the Wolves are led by newcomer Cory Whitmore this season.

A teacher at Oak Harbor High School, he already knew most of Coupeville’s players firsthand from his work coaching alongside Smedley with the Whidbey Fury select program.

Now, as he inherits a team which lost only McKenzie Bailey and Sydney Autio to graduation (and Kyla Briscoe to injury), Whitmore is ready to embrace the opportunity.

“Could not be more excited about the season and this group of young women,” he said. “We would love to see the gym packed during home games – it will be a fun season.”

Coupeville, which split two playoff matches in 2015, beating Seattle Christian at home before being edged on the road by Cascade Christian, opens with a  possibly unprecedented five straight matches at home.

Overall, they are set to play 9 of 15 matches on their home floor, and perhaps more if the playoff gods smile on them again.

The Wolves won four of their final six matches last season, finishing 6-10 overall, 3-3 in Olympic League play.

The JV went a crisp 7-4 as well, boding well for the future.

Whitmore will have a strong core to lean on as he makes his debut as a high school head coach.

Seniors Valen Trujillo, Tiffany Briscoe and Ally Roberts are the grizzled leaders for a squad which is still remarkably young.

“We have quite a few of our players returning with varsity experience,” Whitmore said. “Valen will definitely be a player to watch on her defensive intensity, calm passing ability and strong leadership.

Tiffany is also a senior captain and brings a heavy arm-swing and can hit at either pin,” he added.

Junior Lauren Rose and sophomore Ashley Menges will split time at the setter position (“both have worked hard in the off-season to develop their ability to run the offense and both bring a tough serve”), with a number of other players vying for floor time.

Katrina McGranahan has been making great progress in her attacking ability and is a large block that will give opponents problems,” Whitmore said. “Payton Aparicio is very solid in her passing ability and has a fast approach and quick arm-swing.

Emma Smith, Ally, Hope Lodell, Sarah Wright and Allison Wenzel each bring something different to the team,” he added. “We have many players that can play numerous positions and bring their all every day, which allows us to have competitive practices, preparing for game situations.”

One newcomer expected to make an impact is junior Mikayla Elfrank, who transferred from South Whidbey last year.

After anchoring the infield at short for the Wolf softball team in the spring, she’s expected to be a three-sport star this time around, adding volleyball and basketball to her duties.

Mikayla has the ability to play in the middle as well as on the right side, with a strong jumping ability and a fast arm-swing,” Whitmore said.

While his varsity is comprised of battle-tested veterans, the new coach was pleasantly surprised to see how big the turnout for volleyball was overall.

While some other sports at CHS are reportedly down in numbers this fall, the spikers are almost 30 deep.

“We have a strong incoming freshman class that I am very excited about,” Whitmore said. “They have made progress already as a class and are quickly figuring out the system we run and the increased pace and intensity of high school athletics.”

The new volleyball guru wants to build on what Smedley began, keeping everyone’s eyes firmly on the prize.

“My goal for the season would first and foremost be to develop and lead the team to a league championship,” Whitmore said. “From there we will then look forward to making it to state.

“I am fortunate to coach such a hard-working and dedicated group of student-athletes,” he added. “The expectations are high and we look forward to the lofty goals.”

As the Wolves head towards their opener (Sept. 6 at home vs. Mount Vernon Christian), they’re working on fine-tuning their skill set.

“Right now our team strengths start with strong leadership, which is so essential to the success of a season,” Whitmore said. “We also have a tough serve that has potential to frustrate opponents.

“Defensive intensity, both on the block and the back row digging seem to be a strength of ours as well.”

Consistency is the watchword of the day, however.

“We have put a heavy emphasis on tightening our serve receive and offensive firepower,” Whitmore said. “With a more consistent team passer rating, we will be able to use our offensive weapons in numerous positions.

“It all starts with the pass and our team recognizes that as a point of emphasis.”

Klahowya enters the season as the two-time defending league champs, but Whitmore stresses every match, league or non-league, is vitally important.

One slight change is the number of league matches the Wolves will play.

After back-to-back seasons of six, the number is now nine, pitting Coupeville against Port Townsend, Chimacum and Klahowya three times apiece.

The change, which also affects soccer, puts those sports on par with basketball, softball and baseball.

Regardless of the uniform on the other side of the net, the focus is the same.

“We will have to respect everyone that we come up against,” Whitmore said. “This includes non-league games – each and every opponent we face is a chance to get better.

“Focusing on us and taking care of our side of the net is what we will strive to manage.”

Once were giants!!

Marc Aparicio (John Fisken photo)

   Marc Aparicio, now the baseball coach at CHS, played on the ’87-’88 Wolf boys’ basketball team, the last one to make it to state. (John Fisken photo)

It has been 10,404 days since a Coupeville High School boys’ basketball team last played in the state tourney.

When the Wolf hoops squad exited the floor Thursday, Mar. 3, 1988, after taking a 77-46 loss to Bridgeport, it brought an end to one of the best seasons in program history.

And yet, now, 28 years, five months and 24 days later, it’s a team largely forgotten.

Which is a shame.

Even with the brand spanking new Wall of Fame which went up in the CHS gym this week, the ’87-’88 boys’ basketball players remain largely out of the spotlight, as they came a game short of sharing a league title.

Still, this was a team which went 17-2 in the regular season under coaches Ron Bagby, Sandy Roberts and Cec Stuurmans, undefeated in non-league play and 10-2 in Northwest B League action.

They split with La Conner, winning the second match-up in overtime, giving the eventual league champs (11-1), who finished 5th at state, their only league loss.

What killed Coupeville was an eight-point loss at mid-season to Friday Harbor, the third-best team in a seven-team league.

A very balanced squad — four Wolves (Timm Orsborn, Dan Nieder, Brad Brown and Joe Tessaro) averaged double figures — CHS split four games at Tri-Districts (which it hosted), then went 0-2 at state.

A 55-35 loss to NW Christian (Colbert), followed by their defeat at the hands of Bridgeport, sent the Wolves to the showers at 19-6.

Which stands with pretty much any boys basketball squad in school history.

The program has seven league titles, spread out from 1970 to 2002, one district title (1970), and is 2-10 in five trips to state.

While ’87-’88 can’t claim any of those eight titles, its win total is among the best single-season performances by a Wolf boys squad.

And, until a modern-day crew gets its act together, the players on that roster — Orsborn, Nieder, Brown, Tessaro, Chad Gale, Marc Aparicio, Morgan Roehl, Andrew Bird, Tom Conard, Tony Ford and Brandy Ambrose — stand as the last CHS boys hoops stars to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.

Going through boxes crammed full of random paperwork that were rescued from a back room in the CHS gym complex, I stumbled over a complete stats breakdown for ’87-’88.

In honor of their achievements back then, and their enduring legacy, let’s take a look, shall we?

The stats:

Gale 25 95 35 42 59 42 45 49 57 225 9.0
Brown 24 71 26 33 14 32 61 91 47 49 253 10.5
Nieder 24 102 14 65 35 72 91 84 58 70 311 13.0
Orsborn 25 138 71 91 142 28 44 39 65 347 13.9
Tessaro 25 114 32 103 127 14 54 24 79 260 10.4
Ford 15 35 10 38 31 8 21 10 26 80 5.3
Conard 23 30 4 15 32 21 36 18 18 64 2.8
Aparicio 25 22 4 16 30 18 47 22 30 48 1.9
Ambrose 13 2 2 9 5 15 6 12 4 0.3
Bird 12 2 3 4 2 7 1 4 0.3
Roehl 11 2 6 7 1 6 1 4 0.4
TOTALS 25 613 40 254 365 545 291 450 275 406 1600 64.0

And PS, Marc Aparicio, if you’re wondering where your letter certificate is for that year, it was buried in the back of a file cabinet.

You want it back, you know where I am.

Stars since day one!!

(Photo courtesy Willie Smith's spring cleaning)

   You never know what you’re going to find when you start cleaning out the Athletic Director’s office. (Photo courtesy Willie Smith’s spring cleaning)

Sure, it’s Saturday, but you don’t always have to wait until Thursday for throwback photos.

This one comes to us from the “olden days” of 1992-1993, and gives us a glimpse into the early days of some of the best athletes to spring from Coupeville High School.

If you had to play a game of “pick the superstar before they were a superstar” it would probably come down between Jen Canfield and Marnie Bartelson.

Canfield, who is in the back row, far right, next to coach Ron Bagby, went on to be a two-time All-League hoops player in the Cascade Conference, easily one of the best to wear a Wolf uniform.

Her high school coach back in the day, Willie Smith, is now the CHS Athletic Director and the man who unearthed this pic for me.

Looking back, this is how he remembers Canfield:

“She was a complete joy to coach and completely personified what it means to be an athlete: competitive, hard working, coachable, leader, great all-around personality on and off the court.”

Bartelson was a solid hoops player herself, but soccer is where she made her name.

Playing with Oak Harbor (Coupeville didn’t have a team in the mid-’90s), she and fellow Wolf Amanda Allmer led the Wildcats to a league title and 4th place finish in 3A at state.

After winning league MVP honors in high school, Bartelson rewrote the record books at Utah State as a college player

But, while those two made the biggest post-middle school splash, at least athletically, all 12 girls featured here went on to shine, both in sports and off the court.

One, in fact, Emrie McCauslin (bottom row, far right) is the mom of a current Wolf hoops star — Maddy Hilkey.

The lineup (using maiden names):

Back row (l to r) — Jennifer Meyer, Bonnie Engle, Emily Wodjenski, Melanie Frost, Kristina Clark, Jen Canfield, Ron Bagby

Front row (l to r) — Sarah Miller, Marnie Bartelson, Rachel McIntyre, Nicole Monteleone, Jenny Christensen, Emrie McCauslin

Football is upon us!!

Hunter Smith (John Fisken photos)

   Hunter Smith looks for running room, as Ryan Labrador trails the play. (John Fisken photos)

Jacob Zettle

Jacob Zettle stays hydrated on a sizzling afternoon in La Conner.


   Coupeville was the only school to bring its cheerleaders. Thereby proving, as always, the Wolves have far more spirit than their rivals.

Dawson Houston

Dawson Houston snags a wayward ball.


The Wolves have a meeting of the minds.

Teo Keilwitz

Teo Keilwitz runs to daylight.

thumbs up

Which gets a thumbs up from Jake Hoagland.

Sean TS

   Rampaging freshman Sean Toomey-Stout already has the whole “tackling like a wild beast” thing down cold.

No one worried about the score, but Friday was still important.

With Coupeville High School’s football team sitting eight days away from its season opener (Sept. 3 at home vs. South Whidbey), the Wolves got a chance to go out and hit someone who wasn’t their own teammate.

The occasion was a three-team jamboree down La Conner way, with Coupeville and Burlington-Edison filling out the marquee.

The game gave the Wolves a chance to run through their offense and defense under game-like conditions (and the watchful eye of first-year head coach Jon Atkins).

It also might have provided a little bit of an informal scouting session, as Coupeville returns to La Conner in Week 2 (Sept. 9) for a non-conference game with the Braves.

As the teams battled under a scorching sun, wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken worked the sidelines, capturing the late-summer gridiron action.

To see more (and possibly purchase some glossy, mantle-worthy pics while helping fund scholarships for CHS student/athletes) pop over to:


Choose your lane!!

(Scott Losey photos)

   Coupeville High School’s new track oval, sporting just-added lanes, glimmers in the Friday afternoon sun. (Scott Losey photos)


Lines upon lines, all leading to a bright future for CHS track.

For the first time in 35 years, there are new lanes on the Coupeville High School track oval.

Of course, it helps that the oval itself is brand spanking new as well, as the levy approved by local voters continues to pay off with upgraded facilities.

While the track itself has been in place for a week or two now, Friday was L-Day, as lines were officially painted, taking the whole thing to another level of reality.

Still ahead is obtaining all the moving parts (hurdles, pole vault pit equipment, electronic timing devices, etc.) needed for CHS to start hosting track meets again.

As the old six-lane track deteriorated, the school lost the ability to host meets around 2008.

The plan is to take full advantage of the gorgeous new eight-lane track, as school officials want Coupeville to be a destination for teams.

Along with holding regular home track meets, CHS wants to host postseason events such as the district meet, which would bring in multiple teams and a new level of excitement.


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