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Archive for the ‘Girls Soccer’ Category

Tia Wurzrainer: three sports, 1000% effort. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Numbers don’t always tell the full story.

And that’s why, to fully appreciate what Tia Wurzrainer brought to Coupeville High School athletics the past four years, you needed to see her play in person.

From a distance, she didn’t score a staggering amount of goals on the soccer field, and didn’t net a record-busting number of baskets on the hardwood.

But watch Tia play in person, whether it was soccer, basketball, or tennis season, and you would quickly gain an appreciation of why she was so valued by coaches, and so beloved by her teammates.

The young girl who once sat quietly eating her sandwich back in a corner at her family’s restaurant, Christopher’s on Whidbey, emerged as one of the hardest-working, far-tougher-than-expected athletes to ever pull on a Wolf jersey.

Tia did the dirty work, and then asked for more, always with a smile.

On the soccer field, she sacrificed her body game after game, a defender who seemingly feared no scoring ace, and wasn’t gonna take no crap from no one, no matter how fancy the rival school might be.

She protected her side of the field with a burning intensity, slamming into frays, chasing down breakaways, fighting for every 50/50 ball, making life considerably easier for the CHS goalkeepers who camped out behind her.

Give her a chance to score, and she could, but Tia made her name holding down the backline, where she netted All-Conference honors and earned mad respect from anyone foolish enough to challenge her.

As fall faded into winter, she would move from the pitch to the basketball court, but her persona as a quietly tough-as-nails roustabout never changed.

Tia slices to the hoop for a bucket in a big win over arch-rival South Whidbey.

The kind of “glue” player every coach needs, she was that rare teen athlete who not only accepted her role, but openly embraced it.

Need a lock-down defender?

A hustler and a scrapper?

A pass-first player who could help keep her team flowing under big-time pressure?

A staunch supporter of each and every one of her teammates?

Tia was the answer for all those needs, and she always seemed to play with the same intensity and effort regardless of whether she was starting or coming off the bench.

Proving she was a true three-sport star, she never skipped a season, joining Avalon Renninger to form a deadly doubles duo on the tennis court each spring.

Always a deadly assassin on the tennis court.

The pair meshed almost flawlessly, both in playing style, and with the grace and drive they exhibited match after match.

Team leaders, captains, and stellar competitors, the duo were on the fast track to make it to the state tourney, only to see their senior season derailed by COVID-19.

While Tia and Avalon didn’t get the chance to make a run at glory in Eastern Washington, that shouldn’t detract in the slightest from what they accomplished when given a chance to play.

While reflecting on their net careers, CHS tennis guru Ken Stange marveled at what Wurzrainer had brought to his program.

Tia … calm, cool, and collected.

“She would probably argue with me, but I think Tia is perfect.

“Kind, intelligent, intuitive, and hard working. I don’t think I ever heard a single negative word pass through her lips.

“Her work ethic was second to none. Anyone would be happy to have her as a partner, me included.”

Some athletes get a chance to put up big numbers, making it easy for people in far-off states or other countries to have at least a loose idea of what they accomplished.

But it’s those like Tia, the ones you need to be camped out in the bleachers, or on the bench, or out there on the floor with her, to really appreciate, who make an impact which can’t be matched.

If you know, you know.

And, if you don’t know, you really, truly missed out.

Today, we swing open the doors at the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame and welcome Tia to our hallowed digital hideaway, where she is reunited with Avalon, her tennis doubles partner.

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

All in all, a very appropriate choice of words to describe two of the best, as athletes and as people, to ever emerge from Coupeville.

Wurzrainer and Renninger? They were kind of a big deal.

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Mallory Kortuem commands the soccer pitch. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

She sort of snuck up on me.

As her high school career has played out, Mallory Kortuem has been the quiet assassin, piling up records and awards while seeming content to reflect the spotlight onto her teammates.

The Coupeville High School senior, who should be enjoying one final trip around the track oval this spring, has never been one to scream and beat her chest in public about her accomplishments.

But dang, Mallory.

If you step back and look at the entire run of her prep days, it’s more than just merely impressive.

The youngest of Alex and Heather Kortuem’s children is legitimately one of the best athletes to ever pull on a Wolf uniform, ever. End of story.

That Mallory has always seemed like a super-quality person away from the pitch and oval as well, just makes it easier for those of up in the stands to hail her as one of the greats.

Momentarily at rest, Mallory hangs out with Sherry Roberts (left) and mom Heather Kortuem.

So, without further ado, we welcome her today to the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

It’s not quite the same as getting to stand on the podium in Cheney in late May, hailed as a state champ, a path she seemed destined for before the coronavirus pandemic split the world into a billion pieces.

But, I hope it means something to her, at least a little.

As she goes forward into the world, ready to reach new goals and captivate her ever-growing legion of fans, Mallory can know that here on the blog she’ll live on in local lore, forever a prairie phenom.

Pop open the Legends tab up at the top of the page, and you’ll find her, a blur of speed and toughness, momentarily at rest.

Mallory has been at the forefront of two Wolf programs during her days at CHS, and it never seems like there was a moment where she was a raw rookie.

She always seemed like a grizzled vet, her cerebral skills matching her physical gifts, whether she was a new-to-the-scene freshman or an about-to-depart senior.

Put her on the soccer pitch and she could control a game from any position.

She had a deft touch with the ball and a wicked leg, and showed off an uncanny ability to spin around defenders and leave goalies grasping at air when she got to play up front.

If Wolf coaches had used Mallory in a traditional scoring position her entire career, I have little doubt she would be up at the top of the all-time CHS scoring list with players like Mia and Kalia Littlejohn and Genna Wright.

Instead, she spent a lot of her playing days on the backside of the field, using her speed to corral breakaways and her toughness to knock potential scorers off the ball.

As a defender, Mallory took no crap from nobody.

Kortuem fights off a rival.

I’m sure there were opposing players who looked at her slender build and thought they could bully her.

They quickly changed their minds.

Mallory not only wasn’t afraid of getting in close and scrapping with rivals, she seemed to derive a considerable joy out of beatin’ the snot out of them, then leaving them eating the grass as she sprinted away with the soccer ball.

Dirty? Never. Willing to back down? Let’s capitalize that NEVER.

Upholding the tradition set down by scrappy Wolf ballhawks like Micky “Two Fists” LeVine, there was no bend, no break in Mallory’s game.

Her team might win. It might lose. But she was going to make sure you remembered her long after the final score faded into memory.

But, as good as she was on the pitch, Mallory has made an even-bigger splash in the world of track and field.

Entering what was supposed to be her senior season, she had already splashed her name all across the school’s record board in the CHS gym.

Mallory currently holds four school records, tying her with fellow Hall o’ Famer Maya Toomey-Stout for top honors.

Speed demons Kortuem and Maya Toomey-Stout. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

And those records have come in a variety of events, from the 400 and pole vault to running legs on super-quick 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 relay units.

In the pole vault, her top mark of eight feet, 10 inches is almost two-and-a-half feet above what any other Wolf girl has ever reached.

Meanwhile, in the 400, an event in which Mallory finished 2nd at state as a junior, she passed Makana Stone, proving I was completely, 1000% wrong when I thought that record would live for decades.

With four state meet medals entering her senior campaign, Miss Kortuem had a chance, pre-pandemic, to finish as one of the most-decorated CHS female track stars of all time.

But even if spring sports don’t start back up, and she doesn’t get the chance to chase Lindsey Roberts (eight medals), Stone (7), and Natasha Bamberger (6), it will take absolutely none of the luster off of her brilliant run.

You can only control what you can control, and when that control was left in Mallory’s hands, she never failed to impress.

One of the best, ever. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

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Carolyn Lhamon and CHS girls soccer jump to the Northwest 2B/1B League this fall. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

OK, this one is a bit simpler.

Mostly.

When Coupeville High School bounces from 1A to 2B next school year, most Wolf sports programs will relocate from the 1A North Sound Conference to the Northwest 2B/1B League.

Boys tennis is its own convoluted story, but that’s a tale for another time, as we’re focusing on soccer right now.

And, unlike the CHS boys, who switch from spring to fall, and inherit a complicated string of new foes, the Wolf girl booters get a pretty straightforward new agenda.

For one thing, they stay in the fall, as always.

Plus, the Wolf girls will play the same group of schools they’ll see in other sports, with two small exceptions.

Concrete and Darrington don’t field girls soccer teams, but the other six schools in the NWL do, making for a compact schedule.

The Wolves will face off with fellow 2B schools La Conner, Chimacum, and Friday Harbor in home-and-away set-ups, while also playing 1B Mount Vernon Christian and Orcas Island.

MVC is the defending league champ, and finished second at the 1B/2B state tourney last fall, dropping a 1-0 squeaker to Davenport in the championship game.

Before that, La Conner and Friday Harbor shared the previous seven league titles listed on the NWL web site.

La Conner won in 2012, 2015, 2016, and 2017, while Friday Harbor topped the field in 2013, 2014, and 2018.

As its sits now, the Coupeville girls have a 13-game schedule, while the Wolf boys have 16 rumbles planned, so it’s entirely possible more games will pop up as we get closer to September.

Currently, the three non-conferences games come against two former North Sound Conference rivals — Sultan and CPC-Bothell, and one newbie – Eastside Prep.

There’s also the lingering question of who will be running things from the sideline.

Kyle Nelson currently coaches both girls and boys soccer at CHS, but in different seasons.

With both programs operating at the same time, as 2B boys soccer plays in the fall and not spring, it’s unknown whether he will juggle teams or whether Coupeville would add a new head coach for one of the teams.

As it stands, there are only two dates on the schedule (Sept. 15 and Oct. 27) where both CHS soccer teams play on the same day.

Both of those feature one team on the road, and one at home.

Much can change in five months, and, let’s face it, no one really knows if we will even be back to sports action by fall, depending on how the coronavirus pandemic ebbs and flows.

Thinking positively, this is what we have set for now:

 

2020 CHS girls soccer schedule
(* = league game):

Sat-Sept. 12 — @Cedar Park Christian-Bothell (3:00)
Tue-Sept. 15 — @Sultan (7:00)
Thur-Sept. 17 — Mount Vernon Christian (6:00) *
Thur-Sept. 24 — @Orcas Island (4:00) *
Tues-Sept. 29 — @Friday Harbor (4:00) *
Thur-Oct. 1 — @Mount Vernon Christian (3:30) *
Tues-Oct. 6 — La Conner (6:00) *
Thur-Oct. 8 — Eastside Prep (6:00)
Tues-Oct. 13 — Chimacum (6:00) *
Thur-Oct. 15 — @La Conner (4:00) *
Thur-Oct. 22 — @Chimacum (6:45) *
Tues-Oct. 27 — Friday Harbor (6:00) *
Thur-Oct. 22 — Orcas Island (6:00) *

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Avalon Renninger was a team captain for the first Coupeville High School girls soccer team to win a playoff game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Freshman Nezi Keiper earned Rookie of the Year honors.

Mallory Kortuem, who combines speed, toughness, and a deft touch with the ball, was named a First-Team All-League player by North Sound Conference coaches.

Mallory Kortuem made a very positive impression on folks.

The Coupeville High School senior was tabbed a First-Team All-League pick by North Sound Conference coaches, while also taking home her team’s Player of the Year award.

The Wolf midfielder/defender and her teammates were honored Tuesday night, as CHS coach Kyle Nelson closed out the season with a team awards banquet.

Kortuem’s fellow senior, defender Tia Wurzrainer, received Second-Team All-League honors and was named Most Inspirational in team awards.

Sophomore Noelle Daigneault (Most Improved) and freshmen Nezi Keiper and Carolyn Lhamon (Rookies of the Year) were also honored by Nelson.

Kortuem, Wurzrainer, and Avalon Renninger shared Captain honors, and the trio were joined by Anna Dion in receiving Four-Year awards for playing every season of their high school careers.

 

Varsity letter winners:

Knight Arndt
Mollie Bailey
Noelle Daigneault
Anna Dion
Natalie Hollrigel
Nezi Keiper
Mallory Kortuem
Carolyn Lhamon
Sophia Martin
Katelin McCormick
Mary Milnes
Anna Myles
Avalon Renninger
Audrianna Shaw
Eryn Wood
Tia Wurzrainer

 

JV certificates:

Megan Behan
Natalie Castano
Aurora Cernick
Brekyn Clark
Camryn Clark
Lily Leedy
Sam Streitler
Izzy Wells
Genna Wright

 

Manager:

Ja’Kenya Hoskins

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Anna Myles leads off a group of CHS soccer portraits. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Megan Behan

Camryn Clark

Katelin McCormick

Noelle Daigneault

Lily Zustiak

No photo goes unused.

As each season plays out, local photographer John Fisken generally sends me head shot portraits of most, if not all, of Coupeville High School’s athletes.

How they’re used depends on the flow of the season, who has a strong game, who fits a certain story, etc.

Having reached the end of the CHS girls soccer season, I find myself with six portraits I haven’t used, so today you get a final smorgasbord of pitch-y pics.

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