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Archive for the ‘Cross Country’ Category

Coupeville track stars Jacob Smith (left) and Danny Conlisk made sure the whole state learned their names. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Sometimes, I can be a real idiot.

But, sometimes, my being a real idiot actually works out in the end. Hopefully.

As I induct people into the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, the biggest stumbling block is I’m a one-man crew, in charge of nominating, voting (there are some fierce battles…), and writing the stories.

Which is my way of sort of explaining why sometimes a slam-dunk inductee doesn’t go in as quickly as they should.

Cause I’m an idiot, I get busy with other stuff, and I completely space on things.

A year ago, when he graduated from Coupeville High School after compiling one of the best track and field careers in school history, Jacob Smith should have been added to my lil’ digital hall o’ wonders.

Like immediately, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200.

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I was scanning the list of inductees, and realized, to my growing horror, that he wasn’t there.

But, my complete and utter failure sort of works out, because now, when I induct him today, he can go in along with his running mate, Danny Conlisk, in a two-for-one special.

After this, you’ll find both of them at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

It’s appropriate they go in together, because the duo pushed each other on the oval, and exhibited many of the same qualities during their times in a Wolf uniform.

They were both fast to begin, but worked relentlessly, together and apart, to rise to new heights.

Calm, easy-going, low-key, quiet leaders, they let their fleet feet do the talking for them, and made the world at large stand up and notice.

Coupeville, a cow town on a rock in the middle of the water up in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t always get the same respect as King’s or Lynden Christian or a million other “legacy” schools do.

The Wolves have to earn it, and from Kyle and Tyler King to Makana Stone and on to Smith and Conlisk, track and field has been the one arena where other schools and fan bases have had to accept that CHS can get all up in their business.

And man, did Jacob and Danny make them sit up and take notice.

The duo combined to win 12 state meet medals – six apiece – shattered school records left and right, and were as dynamic on the oval as any pair in Wolf track history.

Smith is one of just two CHS athletes to win four medals at the same state meet, doing so during his senior season.

Finishing 2nd in both the 100 and 200, he also added a leg on 4 x 100 (7th) and 4 x 400 (5th) relay teams which battled down to the wire.

Toss in a 4th in the 200 as a sophomore, and a 3rd in the same event as a junior, and, despite having the most-common last name in America, everyone knew his name down in Cheney by the time he was finished.

An explosive runner who chased down rivals as mom Deb out-shouted the rooting sections of entire schools by herself, Jacob made every race a must-see moment.

His fellow inductee, to be honest, was not someone I originally would have seen going into the Hall o’ Fame.

I have vague memories of Conlisk competing in middle school – a quiet, skinny kid loping around the track.

Did I think he would one day be a two-time state champion, hold school records in the 100, 200, and 400, and qualify for the national Junior Olympics twice?

Not a chance.

Cause I’m an idiot. Or at least a really-bad talent scout.

Once Danny found his groove, though, he became the ultimate make-good story.

What we couldn’t see, at least at first, was how powerful his work ethic was going to be, and how huge his heart was.

Whether running cross country or track, Conlisk just kept getting better and better, ending his prep career by breaking an eight-year state title dry spell for CHS.

This spring, he roared to wins in the 200 and 400 at the 1A state meet, and finished half a step from making it three titles in three races, finishing 2nd in the 100.

It was the first time since 2010 that a Wolf had stood atop the podium, with Conlisk becoming just the ninth individual CHS athlete in 119 years to earn the title of state champ.

Toss in two medals from his junior season — a 2nd in the 400 and a 5th in the 4 x 400 — and one more from his sophomore campaign (5th in the 400), and he and Smith finish tied with Natasha Bamberger and Chad Gale for the fifth-most state meet medals in school history.

But while the medals stand as a testament to their achievement, both Jacob and Danny will be remembered for far more than their hardware.

They are proof, to every current and future Wolf, that hard work and utter commitment can carry you to the mountain top, and that once there, you don’t have to back down just because someone else has a fancy uniform from a “name” school.

You can rep Coupeville and be the best, and Smith and Conlisk are living proof of that.

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Coupeville High School cross country coach Natasha Bamberger watches her runners compete last season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The living legend has left the building. For the moment, at least.

Natasha Bamberger, a five-time state champion in running events for Coupeville High School, returned to her alma mater last fall to revive a successful, but long-shuttered, cross country program.

Under her guidance, the Wolves returned to the trails for the first time in two decades, and immediately began to rebuild and impress.

She fielded a full boys team, led by state meet veteran Danny Conlisk, and had a strong one-two combo on the girls side with Catherine Lhamon and Alana Mihill.

With fellow coach Elizabeth Bitting launching a very-strong middle school program at the same time, Coupeville cross country is well on its way to recapturing the glory days it enjoyed when Bamberger won the state cross country title in 1985.

Now, though, her runners will have to go on without her.

Bamberger has resigned as CHS cross country coach, as real-world work issues have reduced her availability to coach.

“This was really hard and a decision I have struggled with,” she said. “It breaks my heart to have to resign coaching cross country this season, but bringing in an income for my family is my reality at this stage of my life.

“I hope my team knows how much I have enjoyed working with them,” Bamberger added. “How much I respect their continued hard work, in becoming a team, a cross country family.”

Having rekindled the fire, she looks forward to seeing future Wolves make a run at the kind of success she enjoyed during her own high school days.

Along with Kyle King, she is one of two Wolves in school history (1900-2019) to win five state titles, and the only one to have all of her championships come in individual events.

Along with her cross country crown, Bamberger ruled the track oval, copping titles in the 1600 in 1984, and the 3200 in ’84, ’85, and ’86.

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Coupeville freshman Alana Mihill was a revelation this fall, embracing cross country and making an immediate impact. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS coach Natasha Bamberger honors senior captain Danny Conlisk, who, after two years of training and traveling with South Whidbey, got to lead his own team. (Photos courtesy Bamberger)

Wolf runners, and their support crew, celebrate “Crossgiving” at Sunday’s awards banquet.

The coach who revived a program she once led as a runner has a special gift to remember this season. (Photo courtesy Helene Lhamon)

Revived, reborn and earning respect.

Ending a two-decade-plus exile, cross country returned to Coupeville High School this fall, and it was a smashing success.

Starting the program virtually from scratch — two returning runners, Danny Conlisk and Sam Wynn, had trained and traveled with South Whidbey last year — CHS coach Natasha Bamberger hit the ground running.

She pulled together an eight-athlete roster, fielding a full boys team while launching the very-promising harrier careers of Catherine Lhamon and Alana Mihill.

The trail runners made huge strides while training with Bamberger, who won a 1985 state title in cross country and four more in track back when she was the one wearing a CHS uniform.

Tack on a huge turnout at the middle school level for CMS coach Elizabeth Bitting, and the future of the cross country program couldn’t be brighter.

But Sunday night was about hailing the trailblazers who brought cross country back inside Coupeville schools.

In future years, as the program grows, other Wolves may join Bamberger and 2010 state champ Tyler King at the top of the podium.

When they do, they will be rightfully hailed.

But for now, and forever, the two girls, six boys, one ecstatic coach and their all-star support crew, the ones who stepped up in 2018, will live large.

It’s a feeling Bamberger captured in her awards banquet wrap-up:

“Happy Crossgiving!!”

This is how the Coupeville High School cross country family ends its first XC season – at Fort Casey with submarines, laughs and tons of kindness.

Captain Award:
Danny Conlisk

Varsity letters:

Catherine Lhamon
Alana Mihill
Danny Conlisk
Sam Wynn

Senior Awards:

Danny Conlisk
Uriah Kastner
Kyle Burnett

Runner Discovered:
Uriah Kastner

Fighter Award:
Kyle Burnett

Natural:
Sam Wynn

In the Zone:
Chris Ruck

Toughest Competitor:
Catherine Lhamon

Workhorse Award:
Alana Mihill

Alana’s first letter; she pushed the team from the first day of the summer preseason.

She made every practice and when team felt tired she’d be right out front pushing the boys!!

Best Attitude Award:
TJ Rickner

TJ has the best attitude you could ask for in a runner. Finishes the race saying coach that was so fun! Smiling ear to ear.

I want to bottle that enthusiasm!

It was a great night! They sewed coach a quilt!

Special thanks to Dawnelle, Glenda and Ken. Fitting he was at the head of the table, submarines and all!

Huge thank you Robyn Myers, SPU-Fort Casey, and for the amazing support of the Coupeville Boosters. I’m overwhelmed.

Thank you David for your support of the team. Anything I can do for you please ask.

You have done so much for this community.

Do your articles motivate? Maybe we better put you in the hot seat in the next super motivator contest!!

We could graph athlete performance and “Coupeville Sports” coverage. Haha!!

Parting words … “Summer practice starts weekdays 10 AM after the last day of school, Monday-Friday.

(Big focus eye contact and huge smile holding my breath…)

I look forward to seeing you ALL there!

Feels great to be home!

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With Catherine Lhamon out with an injury, freshman Alana Mihill was a lone Wolf in the girls cross country race Saturday at bi-districts. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville boys (l to r) TJ Rickner, Kyle Burnett, Uriah Kastner, Sam Wynn and Danny Conlisk wait at the starting line.

Burnett slashes down the trail.

It’s high noon in the photo pit, as Dawnelle Conlisk comes out firing.

CHS coach Natasha Bamberger, a state champ in ’85, watches proudly as a new generation reignites the Wolf cross country program.

Conlisk, who trained and traveled with South Whidbey in recent years, ends his senior season as captain of a complete Coupeville team.

The storied past, vibrant present and bright future of Coupeville cross country, all wrapped into one.

The red and black is back (on the trail).

Coupeville’s reborn cross country program, resurrected after a 20+ year absence, went eight runners strong in its first go-around.

Six of those Wolves were on the line Saturday in South Whidbey for the bi-district meet, and wanderin’ camera clicker John Fisken was there to document things.

To see everything he shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Cross-Country-2018-2019/XC-2018-10-27-District-1-meet/

And when you do, remember, any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes. Circle of life and all.

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A leg injury prevented sophomore Catherine Lhamon, Coupeville’s top-ranked cross country runner, from racing Saturday at districts. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The season ended a hair too soon, but there was nothing but positive feelings at the end.

While the Coupeville High School cross country team failed to advance any runners to the state meet, with senior Danny Conlisk narrowly missing out on a second-straight trip, the Wolves finished the bi-district meet Saturday in South Whidbey heads held high.

For one thing, this was the first time in 20+ years a Coupeville harrier TEAM was even in competition.

After years of wandering the desert, with the occasional runner here and there training and traveling with other schools, CHS revived its cross country program this fall.

Led by coach Natasha Bamberger, a state XC champ in 1985 for the Wolves, Coupeville went eight strong, with six boys and two girls.

One of those female runners, sophomore Catherine Lhamon, was almost a sure shot to make it to state, based on her previous times.

Unfortunately, a leg injury late in the season prevented her from running Saturday.

Conlisk, who went to state in 2017 while training and traveling with South Whidbey, crushed his previous-best time on the SWHS course by 47 seconds, but just missed making the cut.

He needed to finish in the top 35, but hit the tape in 39th.

While she was hoping to get runners through to Pasco, and was planning to travel as a united team if they did, Bamberger exited bi-districts wearing a huge smile.

“They put it all out there today against a very strong district,” she said. “I am very proud of their effort today and for their first season as a cross country team for Coupeville.

“The team told me they don’t want the season to end,” Bamberger said. “I know what I can improve on as coach and we are all looking forward to off-season cross-training and building a good base for their track and the 2019 cross country seasons.”

Getting the chance to revive a program she once starred for was huge for Bamberger.

“I don’t know how to express how much I loved coaching this team,” she said. “Starting from scratch, this team has succeeded in building a culture around the love of running, working hard, pushing their limits.

“They are an exceptionally inclusive group that has fun while they are at it, which is not easy to do in a tough sport like cross country,” Bamberger added. “The team made some great friends out there on this journey, from coaches and other teams like South Whidbey all embracing and encouraging our new runners all the way.

“I can’t wait to see where my three seniors go next and how this young returning team builds on this year.”

 

Complete Saturday results (5,000-meter course):

 

GIRLS:

Alana Mihill (74th) 24:36.15

 

BOYS:

Danny Conlisk (39th) 18:11.02
Sam Wynn (81st) 20:28.09
TJ Rickner (93rd) 21:28.48
Uriah Kastner (98th) 23:10.12
Kyle Burnett (100th) 24:46.20

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