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Noelle Western was Coupeville’s fastest girl Saturday at the Westling Invitational. (Elizabeth Bitting photo)

“They did awesome! We may be small in numbers but we’re large in heart!!!”

A new season of Coupeville Middle School cross country dawned Saturday, and brought all the joy back to Wolf coach Elizabeth Bitting’s heart.

A day after rain and wind (mostly wind) buffeted Whidbey Island, the weather cooperated, and 10 CMS runners got their first chance to step to the line at a real competition.

The event was the Carl Westling Invitational in Langley, the 42nd edition of Whidbey’s premier gathering of harriers.

“What a beautiful day for the first race of the Coupeville Middle School cross country season!,” Bitting said. “No rain, no wind, and we had power!

“There were nerves, anxious feet, lots of questions, and loads of PR’s!!!”

The Wolf girls were up first, and her runners immediately made Bitting proud.

“Once that starting gun went off all nerves, doubts and fears faded, and all we saw were some determined runners!,” she said.

“I am so proud of what each of these runners accomplished at this, their first race,” Bitting added. “I cannot wait to see what the season brings! GO WOLVES!!!”

 

Complete CMS results (3,000 meters):

 

GIRLS:

Noelle Western (10th) 15:00.10
Mikayla Wagner (11th) 15:04.80
Aleksia Jump (20th) 17:22.70
Marin Wagner (21st) 17:43.50
Laken Simpson (22nd) 17:45.90
Emma McFadden (27th) 21:04.90
Mary Western (31st) 22:45.80

 

BOYS:

Easton Green (9th) 13:48.20
Beckett Green (11th) 14:06.00
Wyatt Fitch-Marron (17th) 15:22.40

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Ivy Rudat returns for another season of cross country. (Jackie Saia photo)

The future is bright. And young.

When the Coupeville Middle School cross country team opens competition Saturday at the Carl Westling Invitational in Langley, half of the 15-athlete team will be 6th graders.

CMS coach Elizabeth Bitting only has a handful of veterans, with 8th grader Liza Zustiak entering her third year in the program.

Aleksia Jump is in her second year, with Ivy Rudat and Axel Marshall having participated in last year’s intramural season during the Covid shutdown.

Bitting, always among the most-positive of Wolf coaches, is rarin’ to get going.

“There is an amazing group of sixth-grade athletes! So full of energy and excitement to participate in their first season of a middle school sport,” she said.

“There is so much potential with these athletes!,” Bitting added. “With their enthusiasm and the hard work I have seen them put into workouts, I can’t wait to see what Saturday brings.”

The Westling Invitational is the kickoff to a seven-race schedule for CMS.

“This is always a fun first race to get the runner’s feet wet,” Bitting said. “In fact, with the weather forecasted, they may actually get their feet wet!!!”

 

The CMS roster:

 

8th grade:

Easton Green
Aleksia Jump
Noelle Western
Liza Zustiak

 

7th grade:

Zach Blitch
Axel Marshall
Ivy Rudat

 

6th grade:

Wyatt Fitch-Marron
Beckett Green
Emma McFadden
Laken Simpson
Mikayla Wagner
Mary Western
Marin Winger
Devon Wyman

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Former Wolf Katie Kiel (left), seen with lil’ sis Kacie, is back in the Coupeville Middle School gym, this time as a coach. (Photo courtesy Lanie Kiel)

“Well first I’d like to say Aloha to everyone again!”

There’s a familiar face in the gym, as Katie Kiel, a three-sport athlete and Coupeville High School Class of 2013 grad, returns to the same hardwood floors where she once played in a Wolf uniform.

This time out, she’s joining Cris Matochi as a volleyball coach at Coupeville Middle School, and the duo will lead the spiker program into a new era.

Kiel’s hiring is official when the school board approves it at its next meeting, but in the meantime she’s already out on the floor, with practice having just started.

The CMS spikers play their first matches Sept. 29, with Langley coming to Coupeville.

For Kiel, who was a Wolf cheerleader as well as a basketball and volleyball player, the chance to give back to her alma mater is huge.

During her high school days, she volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, coaching kindergarten and first grade students during basketball season.

Now she’s getting paid for wielding a clipboard, and loving every minute.

“This is my first official gig as a coach, and I’m excited about it!,” Kiel said. “I love this sport (volleyball), and I can’t get enough of it.”

She joins Matochi, who worked with the CMS spikers during a pandemic-altered season last school year, forming a potent duo.

“So far we’ve only had one day of practice, so we’re figuring it out together!” Kiel said.

Cris and I make a great team, so I think as far as coaching duties go, we both pick up where the other lacks, and we both have our places where we really shine.”

Kiel springs from a volleyball-mad family — younger sister Kacie also played for the Wolves all through middle and high school, while dad Steve is a frequent linesman for matches.

As she moves into coaching, Katie hopes to take the lessons she learned as a player, and incorporate them into helping to build new Wolf stars.

“My goals for the upcoming season for my players are for them to learn volleyball terminology, get comfortable with the basics, and learn how to be a great teammate,” Kiel said.

“My goal for this season as a coach is to make it a fun and inclusive place where these girls can feel supported and share my love for this sport,” she added.

“As for long-term, I would love to see these girls go all through high school together, pushing each other every day to make each other better.”

Kiel will aim for wins, but also knows personal growth is huge, especially at the middle school level.

“I hope they take away the life lessons, honestly,” she said.

“Being responsible for more than just yourself, being confident in your ability to learn and progress, and working hard for something you love, because it WILL pay off!”

The Kiel sisters were always two of the more outgoing athletes in Wolf Nation, hard workers who also embrace the laid-back, fun-loving Hawaiian-style life of parents Steve and Lanie.

For Katie, she wants to find that balance between being a friend and a mentor to her young athletes.

Reintroducing herself to the fan base she once played in front of, Kiel preaches positivity as she looks towards a bright future.

“I would like for them to know that as a person I love to talk and I’m (almost) always in a good mood, so feel free to chat me up!,” she said.

“As a coach, I would like them to know that school comes first, and while I love volleyball, grades are what’s most important.

“I would also like them to know that raising kids takes a village, so I encourage all Wolf fans to get involved!”

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Coupeville Athletic Director Willie Smith shut down his middle school boys soccer program, at least for a season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

A little less soccer this season.

Pitch fans will still be able to watch both Coupeville High School programs play, but the farm team is taking the fall off.

Athletic Director Willie Smith confirmed Monday that the Coupeville Middle School boys soccer season has been cancelled.

The decision was based on the program — which is currently without a coach — being unable to attract enough interested players.

CMS, which is returning to action after playing just intramurals last season due to Covid, will still field volleyball and cross country programs this fall.

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Cris Matochi leads the Coupeville Middle School volleyball program.

Rivalries revived.

After a pandemic-altered school year in which Coupeville Middle School athletes were restricted to intramurals, the Wolves are returning to games against other teams.

CMS competes in three sports in the fall, and all three have full schedules as the conference it plays in, the Cascade League, fires back up.

Elizabeth Bitting returns to lead the Wolf cross country program, with Cris Matochi running volleyball.

With Reese Cernick staying with the high school program as an assistant coach, CMS is in the market for a boys soccer guru, and also expects to add a second spiker coach in the coming days.

Where things sit with each middle school sport as we head towards fall:

 

BOYS SOCCER:

Wolf booters start practice September 13, with a potential wrinkle.

With Coupeville High School fighting to field a full roster for boys soccer, the call has been put out for 8th graders who want to jump up and play an extra, early season at the higher level.

Will that make it hard for CMS to also pull together a team, or are there enough 7th graders to make it a moot point?

Only time will tell.

If CMS does have a full team, that squad will no longer play games at Mickey Clark Field, instead moving over to the practice field on Terry Road for home games.

 

Mon-Sept. 27 — @ Northshore Christian — (3:20)
Wed-Sept. 29 — Lakewood — (4:00)
Mon-Oct. 4 — @ Granite Falls — (3:30)
Wed-Oct. 6 — Northshore Christian — (4:00)
Mon-Oct. 11 — @Lakewood — (3:30)
Wed-Oct. 13 — Granite Falls — (4:00)
Mon-Oct. 18 — @Northshore Christian — (3:20)
Wed-Oct. 20 — Lakewood — (4:00)

 

CROSS COUNTRY:

While the CHS squad has two home meets, the CMS harriers, who start practice Aug. 28, settle for two events in nearby Langley.

 

Sat-Sept. 18 — @ Westling Invite (South Whidbey) — (10:00)
Wed-Sept. 22 — @ Lakewood — (3:30)
Sat-Sept. 25 — @ King’s Invite — (12:00)
Thur-Sept. 30 — @ Granite Falls — (3:30)
Fri-Oct. 8 — @ Hole in the Wall (Lakewood) — (3:30)
Thur-Oct. 14 — @ Sultan — (3:30)
Wed-Oct. 20 — Cascade League Championships (South Whidbey) — (3:30)

 

VOLLEYBALL:

Instead of separating players into 7th and 8th grade teams, Cascade League spiker squads, who start practice Sept. 13, split rosters into three units, sort of like JV, varsity, and C-Team.

Even if they won’t call them that.

Monday matches are played 3-2-1, while Wednesday tilts go 1-2-3. So, varsity plays last early in the week, and first mid-week.

 

Wed-Sept. 29 — Langley — (3:15)
Mon-Oct. 4 — @ Lakewood — (3:15)
Wed-Oct. 6 — @ Sultan — (3:30)
Mon-Oct. 11 — @ King’s — (3:30)
Wed-Oct. 13 — Granite Falls — (3:15)
Mon-Oct. 18 — Northshore Christian — (3:15)
Wed-Oct. 20 — Sultan — (3:15)
Mon-Oct. 25 — @ Langley — (3:30)

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