Archive for the ‘Cross Country’ Category

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.

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Freshman cross country ace Mitchell Hall crushed the field and is the 2020 Coupeville Sports Athlete Supreme. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

He ran away with it.

It started as a three-way battle, then became a two-person rumble, before ending as a one-man show.

Freshman cross country ace Mitchell Hall saw his numbers surge big-time at about the halfway point of voting in the 100-hour endurance race that decides the annual Coupeville Sports Athlete Supreme, and emerges as the victor in the eighth go-round of the event.

With 2,867 votes, he captured 50.59% of the 5,667 votes cast, outdueling sophomore basketball star Hawthorne Wolfe, who finished with 1,630 votes.

Defending champ Mason Grove (357 votes) stayed close in the early going, before stepping back and accepting third-place as a senior.

Freshman Maddie Georges (185) and senior Tia Wurzrainer (111) rounded out the top five in a field of 25 CHS athletes.

While the top of the poll had no major movement at the end, Wurzrainer did shake things up, sliding into the top five in the waning moments.


The roll call of Athlete Supreme winners:

2013 – Nick Streubel
2014 – Amanda Fabrizi
2015 – CJ Smith
2016 – Hunter Smith
2017 – Joey Lippo
2018 – Ethan Spark
2019 – Mason Grove
2020 – Mitchell Hall

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Kyle King (bottom left) continues to prep for running the marathon at the US Olympic Team Trials.

The work never stops.

As he prepares for next month’s US Olympic Team Trials, marathoner and Coupeville High School grad Kyle King continues to put in miles.

The former Wolf, a five-time state track champ during his CHS days, is a Captain in the US Marine Corps, currently stationed at the Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado.

While there, King is training with the Good Boys Running Club, and he and one of his running mates competed Saturday at a high-end 10K.

The event was the USATF Cross Country Championships, held at Mission Bay Park in San Diego.

Competing against a collection of the best runners in the nation, King finished 16th out of 68 runners, crossing the line in 32 minutes, 38 seconds.

Good Boys teammate Garret Lee claimed 32nd, while Anthony Rotich of the Nike/US Army team won the race in a crisp 30:36.

With the top three finishers, and four of the first seven across, the Army team also won the team title.

The Olympic Team Trials are February 29 in Atlanta, Georgia, and King would need a top-three finish there to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The fourth and fifth-place finishers will be alternates for Team USA.

Whether he makes it to Japan or not, the 30-year-old runner remains a legend in local running circles.

While running for CHS, he won three-straight state titles in the 3200 from 2006-2008, added the 1600 crown in 2007, and ran a leg on a triumphant 4 x 400 relay unit in 2006.

After graduation, King ran as an NCAA D-I scholarship athlete at two schools – Eastern Washington University and the University of Oklahoma.

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Reiley Araceley was one of 15 CHS cross country runners to letter. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolves (l to r) Helen Strelow, Cristina McGrath, and Claire Mayne form the core of a young, very-promising team.

They ran to success.

Year two of the revived Coupeville High School cross country program came to an official close Wednesday night, as the Wolves and coach Luke Samford celebrated with an awards banquet.

Junior Catherine Lhamon, who made it to the state meet, and freshman Mitchell Hall, who just missed the cut, took home girls and boys MVP honors, respectively, while 15 runners exited with letters.

After lying largely dormant for two decades, with a few individual harriers training and traveling with other schools, CHS brought back its in-school cross country program in 2018.

That first season featured seven runners (five boys, two girls), with those numbers more than doubling in year two.

Coupeville loses just one senior, with Chris Ruck graduating, and should continue to add to its roster, as the middle school cross country program has even bigger numbers.


Varsity letter winners:

Aiden Anderson
Reiley Araceley
Cameron Epp
Mitchell Hall
Eli Kastner
Catherine Lhamon
Claire Mayne
Cristina McGrath
Alana Mihill
Chris Ruck
Helen Strelow
Alexander Wasik
Aidan Wilson
Tate Wyman
Sam Wynn

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Coupeville junior Catherine Lhamon got faster as the cross country season progressed, running her best time Saturday at the 1A state meet. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lhamon and Wolf coach Luke Samford celebrate in Pasco. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Her junior season ended much better than her sophomore campaign.

A year ago, Coupeville’s Catherine Lhamon was the top female runner for a reborn Coupeville High School cross country program.

Peaking at just the right time, she was running wild on the trails, until late-season leg injuries sent her to the sidelines, unable to run in the postseason.

Jump forward a year, and the Wolf harrier program has exploded in the number of athletes participating, with Lhamon back at the front of the pack.

This time, she avoided injuries, allowing her fleet feet to carry her all the way to Pasco, where she ran in the 1A state meet Saturday.

And not only did Lhamon break from the line at the big dance, but she also finished with a bang.

Passing runners down the backstretch, the Wolf junior recorded a season-best time, and the second-fastest mark she’s ever had in a 5,000 meter race.

Her time of 21 minutes, 44.70 seconds was 18.5 seconds faster than her previous top mark this season, and placed her 92nd in a field of 149 runners.

Lhamon was the only CHS athlete to qualify for state this fall, in any sport, and becomes just the third Wolf, and only female, to make it to high school cross country’s biggest race this decade.

She joins Danny Conlisk, who ran at Pasco in 2017, and Tyler King, who won the 1A state title in 2010.

King trained and traveled with Oak Harbor, Conlisk with South Whidbey, as Coupeville’s own cross country program lay dormant for two decades.

It returned in 2018, led by Lhamon, Conlisk and coach Natasha Bamberger, who won the 1985 state title while attending CHS.

Work commitments led to Bamberger stepping away from the program before this season, and she was replaced by college coach Luke Samford.

Coupeville jumped from two girls in 2018 to five this year, while the boys drew a double-digit turnout in year two.

The increased numbers allowed the Wolves to compete in the team standings at meets this season, another huge step as the program rebuilds.

A prime example of what CHS would like to be sits just up the road in Langley, where South Whidbey has a cross country program which sits in the WIAA Hall of Fame.

Saturday, the Falcons sent both boys and girls teams to Pasco, claiming fourth and eighth in the team standings, respectively.

The top individual finisher for South Whidbey was junior Kaia Swegler Richmond, who claimed 6th place.

The 1A girls race got super-dramatic, as defending state champ Naomi Smith of King’s and top contender Alaina Stone of Colville dueled, separated by a single second at the two-mile mark.

Smith, who is one of the fastest high school harriers in the nation, suffered a late fall, however, allowing Stone to run away with a title in the final prep match-up between the speedy seniors.

Adam Briejer of Charles Wright Academy won the boys race, with the Deer Park girls and Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) boys claiming team titles.

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