Archive for the ‘Middle School’ Category

Amber Wyman congratulates daughter Ayden. (Morgan White photo)

“My heart is happy!!! She is the perfect match for the team!!!”

You can count Elizabeth Bitting as Amber Wyman’s biggest fan, as the latter follows in the former’s footsteps as Coupeville Middle School cross country coach.

The position came open recently, when Bitting bounced up to run the high school harrier program, and Wyman’s hire will be official once approved by the school board at this Thursday’s meeting.

The mother of three Wolf athletes — Tate, Ayden, and Devon — she returns the compliments to Coupeville’s running guru.

“I will be working closely with Coach Bitting, because anyone who knows and has worked with her knows what a fantastic coach she is!” Wyman said.

“I’m not sure I would have taken this job had she not been here to show me such a great example; she is definitely my inspiration!”

As she takes over the job, Wyman is excited to give young athletes an opportunity she herself never had.

“I was never a student-athlete,” she said. “I was that reluctant student that never had the benefit of playing sports.

“I wanted to try out for volleyball in high school, but I let my fears and insecurities keep me from playing or trying out for anything. That is one of my biggest regrets!”

Wyman did become an athlete herself, but later in life.

Two months after giving birth to her middle child in 2007, she found herself being both a supporter and an active participant in getting ready for a triathlon.

“My friend Holley visited and said that she had decided to train for a triathlon. I just immediately said, “I’ll join you!” even if she didn’t ask,” Wyman said with a laugh.

She made her debut in the Whidbey Island Triathlon, which was memorable for many reasons.

“I came in almost last and had to step across the finish line and immediately breast feed Ayden, who had refused the bottle from my husband the entire time.”

From that beginning has come appearances in multiple sprint triathlons, 5K, 10K, and 15K races, and “the one and only, memorable half marathon in Napa.”

“So, while it came late for me, I have been out there!” Wyman said.

The coaching bug bit when her children first became soccer players, with things taking a big jump forward when Coupeville schools revived their cross country programs in 2018.

“My husband was excited that someone was doing ‘his’ sport, and Coach Bitting coached Tate,” Wyman said. “It was a fantastic season.

“That year I started helping in whatever way I could, which gradually increased until I was out there at most practices and meets.”

Elizabeth Bitting and Wyman enjoy a day at the races. (Photo courtesy Bitting)

While she may have thought of herself as just a helpful parent at first, it soon became apparent that Wyman and Bitting made a great team.

“The first time I realized I was the ‘assistant’ coach was when I was in the stands as a parent listening to Coach Bitting give the preseason talk. She announced me as her assistant coach!

“I had no idea that was coming, but in reality, I had been playing that role all along: I was helping students with stretches, making sure they were on the right course, helping with uniforms, making sure they were doing what they were supposed to, or really whatever coach asked me to do, and I was at nearly all the meets.”

“I have been learning from Coach Bitting this entire time, and I know I have big shoes to fill!”

When Bitting accepted the high school gig, replacing Paige Spangler, who moved out of state after two years on the job, she actively stumped for her assistant to replace her.

“I applied for the job because of Coach Bitting and Kristin Wagner,” Wyman said. “Coach right away was on it and told me to apply, plus sent multiple texts and mentioned it anytime I talked to her in person.

“Then, Kristin started calling me coach whenever I saw her, so nearly daily!” she added “So really, the support, or arm-twisting, of friends got me here!”

Wyman and her husband, Andrew, who will celebrate their 27th anniversary this year, arrived on Whidbey in 2002.

He launched his dental practice in Oak Harbor, and she has worked as a teacher, first at the fourth-grade level and in recent years as a long-term substitute at Coupeville Elementary School.

That time in the classroom gives Wyman prior knowledge of many of the boys and girls who will run for her next fall, a true positive.

“I know many of these students and parents,” she said. “I have to admit that I don’t enjoy being in the spotlight, but I like feeling helpful.

“I’m hoping I can create a positive atmosphere for the students so that they will give me all they’ve got and understand that while it wasn’t always easy, it was worth it.”

Like Bitting, Wyman is intent on making cross country life a positive one for their runners, whether they’re seasoned athletes or first-timers.

“I want to make this a fun experience for the students, so they want to return or continue into high school,” Wyman said.

“I especially would like to get those reluctant athletes, those who are like me, to get out there and give it a try!” she added. “I want students to realize that although it can be challenging and you will have good and bad days, that’s OK.”

Running offers a unique experience, something Wyman embraces.

“From my years of watching on the sidelines and being in the supporting role while my husband ran in high school and at UW, I have learned that while the students run individually, they are a family,” she said.

“I love that! The running community is an amazing group who are always there to support!”

At its heart, cross country is a fairly simple sport, with no plays to learn, which makes it ideal for athletes of all skill levels and experience.

“I want my student-athletes to have fun, build a strong team, and have enthusiasm for the sport, whether they continue with it or use it as a steppingstone to keep in shape for another sport,” Wyman said.

“One of the best things about running is that it is always available and requires no special equipment!”

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Mia Littlejohn

Bennett Richter

There’s a new duo in the gym.

Coupeville High School head football coach Bennett Richter and former Wolf hoops star Mia Littlejohn are taking over the town’s middle school girls’ basketball program.

The hires will be official after the school board approves the move at its next meeting.

Richter and Littlejohn replace Kassie O’Neil, now coaching the high school’s JV girls’ team, and Kristina Forbes, who resigned due to other obligations.

The CMS girls hit the court this Monday, Jan. 23 for the first day of practice, with the eight-game season running Feb. 9-Mar. 9.

Bennett Richter, who led CHS football to its first league title and state playoff berth since 1990 during the fall, is the husband of high school girls’ varsity basketball coach Megan Richter.

He’s also proven to be quite handy with a floor mop, dazzling Wolf fans with his work during timeouts at high school hoops games this winter.

Littlejohn was a standout two-sport athlete during a three-year run at CHS, before transferring to Oak Harbor High School, where she graduated in 2018.

Mia owns both the season (27) and career (35) scoring records for Wolf girls’ soccer players, and currently sits #36 all-time on the CHS girls’ basketball career scoring chart with 317 points.

She has been working as an assistant coach with the high school girls’ basketball team this winter.

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Haylee Armstrong and friends hit the hardwood in the new year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The gym will be theirs.

Coupeville Middle School girls’ basketball kicks off with the first day of practice Jan. 23 and the first game Feb. 9.

The eight-game season plays out over the course of a month, with home and away series against Sultan and South Whidbey highlighting the schedule.

As things stand today:


Thurs-Feb. 9 — @South Whidbey (3:30)
Wed-Feb. 15 — Granite Falls (3:15)
Thurs-Feb. 16 — @Sultan (3:30)
Tues-Feb. 21 — Northshore Christian (3:15)
Thurs-Feb. 23 — @King’s (3:30)
Mon-Feb. 28 — @Lakewood (3:15)
Thurs-Mar. 2 — Sultan (3:15)
Thurs-Mar. 9 — South Whidbey (3:15)


CMS is also still in the market to hire coaches, with two spots open after hoops gurus Kassie O’Neil and Kristina Forbes moved on to other challenges.


To apply, pop over to:


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Kenneth Jacobsen soars for a tip earlier this season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Levi Dixon is a monster on the hardwood, and his family needs to move to Coupeville.

That’s my takeaway from Wednesday’s middle school boys’ basketball finale, which brought strong South Whidbey squads to the middle of the island.

Fueled by a talented group of 8th graders, the Falcons swept all three games from the hometown Wolves, though one game went down to the wire and the showcase bout was tied at halftime.

How the day played out:


Level 1:

Playing without key injured starter Riley Lawless, Coupeville matched South Whidbey for 14 minutes, before young Mr. Dixon went nuclear on the place.

Knocking down 20 of his game-high 28 after halftime, Elijah Dixon’s younger brother helped the Falcons break a 16-16 tie and run away with a 52-32 win.

Seemingly hitting every shot he put up, Levi Dixon netted 14 baskets while accounting for more than half of his team’s points.

Back in the lineup after missing several games with illness, Coupeville 8th grader Jayden McManus went off for a team-best 14 points, while four other Wolves scored.

Mahkai Myles and Davin Houston tallied six apiece, with Chayse Van Velkinburgh rattling the rim for four and Carson Grove adding a bucket.

Sage Arends, Joshua Stockdale, and Nic Laska rounded out Coupeville’s roster on the afternoon.


Level 2:

Another game, another Falcon sniper named Levi.

This time around it was Levi Batchelor, whose older siblings Brent and Morgan have starred for many a Falcon squad, and he banked in six points to help South Whidbey pull away for a 36-8 win.

The game was just 2-0 in favor of South Whidbey at the first break, but 11-4, 12-2, and 11-2 runs across the final three quarters sealed the deal for the Falcons.

Liam Lawson sank a pair of jumpers to lead Coupeville with four points, while Roger Merino-Martinez and Charles Hart each added a bucket.

Hunter Atteberry, Cyrus Sparacio, Dylan Robinett, Jacob Barajas, Brantley Campbell, Khanor Jump, and Nathan Niewald all saw floor time for the young ‘n scrappy Wolves.


Level 3:

No Levi’s this time, just Drew Staats puttin’ up stats.

The South Whidbey 8th grader torched the nets for 16, as the Falcons rallied late to pull out a 26-21 nailbiter.

Coupeville led 5-4 after one quarter, struggled a bit in the second, then used a 13-6 tear in the third to carry a 19-18 lead into the final frame.

While the Wolves weren’t able to nab the victory, they did spread their offense between four players, with Merino-Martinez throwing down 11 of his team-high 12 points in the third quarter.

Campbell (4), Sparacio (3), and Kenneth Jacobsen (2) also scored in the finale, with Zach Blitch, Jacob Meador, and Dillin Kastner bringing defensive heat.

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CMS 8th grader Davin Houston played strongly Monday against Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Blood was shed and buckets were scored — though not always on the correct basket.

The next-to-last set of games for Coupeville Middle School boys’ basketball this season played out to their own funky rhythm Monday afternoon.

How things went down:


Level 1:

It was carnage on the hardwood.

Coupeville opened without leading scorer and rebounder Jayden McManus, who is battling illness.

Then, the Wolves took two more nasty hits, as inside enforcer Riley Lawless went down with a “severely sprained ankle” and point guard Chayse Van Velkinburgh got his lip split open by a wayward elbow.

While the remaining Wolves fought aggressively all game, they fell behind early to visiting Sultan and were never able to recover, losing 48-19.

The Turks set the tone of the game in the first quarter, sprinting out to a 21-5 lead while KO’ing Lawless and Van Velkinburgh.

From there Sultan pushed its advantage to 36-11 at the half, though Coupeville held up well during a low-scoring second half.

Wolf coach Jon Roberts praised the play of Davin Houston and Mahkai Myles, who carried the scoring load with eight and six points, respectively.

Mahkai probably had his best game shooting,” Roberts said.

Lawless knocked down three points before he was knocked out, while Nic Laska banked in a bucket to round out Coupeville’s offensive attack.

Carson Grove, Sage Arends, and Joshua Stockdale also saw floor time for the Wolves.


Team 2:

The opening act in the Roger Merino-Martinez Experience, as the Wolf gunner rattled home all of Coupeville’s points in a 49-9 loss.

The speed demon scored every which way, rippling the net on a three-ball and also hitting both of his free throw attempts.

Roger the Rocket scored on several steals or nice runners up the left side,” Roberts said.

“He surely missed enough buckets to have had another 12 points. We will work on those pesky layups tomorrow.”

Nathan Niewald, Cyrus Sparacio, Charles Hart, Dylan Robinett, Jacob Barajas, Brantley Campbell, and Kenneth Jacobsen rounded out a Wolf roster which is young and inexperienced, but feisty and hard-working.


Level 3:

Roger the Rocket kept the nets flipping, going off for another 15 points while coming off the bench in a 54-24 loss.

Coupeville rewarded a group of players who “have been giving max effort” with starts, sending Zach Blitch, Kenneth Jacobsen, Khanor Jump, Hunter Atteberry, and Johnathan Jacobsen out for the opening tip.

The Wolves continued to tinker with their lineup, mixing and matching and seeing what worked best.

“We messed with a tall lineup with a fast guard,” Roberts said. “We went with an all 4-foot-5 and under speed crew, and various other lineups to see if we could fluster Sultan.

“We had a good run in the third quarter,” he added. “All players saw the court and participated in one fashion or another.”

Trailing 36-13 at the half, the Wolves controlled the game in frame three, outscoring the Turks 11-8 with a little unexpected help.

Merino-Martinez tickled the twine for nine of his 15 points in the quarter, while Sultan’s #34 scored on the wrong basket, putting a rebound back up and in while probably wondering why none of the Wolves were trying to stop him.

Among guys actually wearing CMS uniforms, Sparacio rattled the rim for four points, while Campbell netted a three-ball.


One more rumble:

The Wolves close their season Wednesday with a rematch against South Whidbey, this time playing in Coupeville.

Tipoff is 3:15 PM.

After that, the CMS girls are next up, kicking off their season in January.

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