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The real world has taken Ashlie Shank away from Coupeville, but she will always be a part of Wolf Nation. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Shank, back in the day, hanging with (l to r) Brisa Herrera, Emma Smith and Sarah Wright.

Not everyone gets the finish they deserve.

Ashlie Shank should be four days away from her first basketball practice at Coupeville High School, a season away from bouncing at the line with her relay teammates, stalking track and field glory, months from walking with them at graduation.

It’s the way it should be. But sometimes real life intrudes on the fairy tale.

You can’t fault her father, Dr. Jim Shank, for accepting a promotion and moving on to a far bigger school system. It’s the life of a Superintendent, especially one who truly makes a difference at each landing spot.

But I feel for Ashlie, who arrived in Coupeville as a middle school student and began her high school journey with the CHS Class of 2019.

Over the course of her time here, as two of her older siblings, brothers Matt and Brian, graduated from CHS, the youngest child in the Shank household made remarkable strides.

She found a band of friends, or, more realistically, sisters, and Ashlie grew into a more-confident young woman, in the sports world and outside of it.

On the basketball court, her quiet intensity paid off, as she became a go-to player for the Wolf JV – one who could, and would, step up and drill a game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Take a sec and go relive the moment at https://coupevillesports.com/2015/12/11/klahowya-you-got-shanked/

Her hustle, her work ethic, her commitment, was rewarded with a varsity jersey during her junior season, when she became a swing player.

If the Shanks hadn’t moved across the country, Ashlie would walk through the CHS gym doors this coming Monday intent on winning a full-time varsity slot. And it would have been one she earned.

In the track and field world, she made it to state in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200, winning respect from her teammates and coaches along the way.

At one point, I polled CHS coaches on the best athletes they had worked with, and this is what one had to say:

I feel that Ashlie Shank is the most underrated athlete that I coached.

This girl was a sleeper and for some reason it seemed that no one expected much from her, but she expected so much from herself and worked so hard to get to where she was before she left.

She was very consistent in her times and she continued to bring them down by working hard, harder than some of the best athletes on the team.

She was essential to her relays and amazing on her own. She knew how to push herself and find new limits every day.

I wish she could have stayed so I could’ve seen her senior season but I wish her the best for her senior year.

Other than writing about her on-field exploits, I had one other interaction with Ashlie during her time in Coupeville.

It came before a soccer playoff game at Oak Harbor’s stadium, when we both ended up in the press box during pre-game warm-ups.

It wasn’t a long conversation, but it reinforced my positive impression of Miss Shank.

She came across as a bright, well-spoken young woman, highly intelligent, fiercely loyal to her friends, with a good sense of humor and a quiet strength at her core.

What I witnessed in person matches what others have said about her, and what I observed from afar at her games.

I have no doubt Ashlie will do well, wherever she is, another winner from a family which has my admiration and respect for how they conduct themselves, and what they accomplish.

Still, a part of me wishes she could have had the chance to end her high school days where she started them. Shoulder-to-shoulder with her sisters from other mothers.

So today, I want to do something, I want to make a small gesture, to let Ashlie know how much of an impact she made while she was on Whidbey Island.

How impressed we were, and are, with the strong, intelligent, highly-motivated young woman who graced Cow Town for a few years.

To remind her that even when life takes you away, you will not be forgotten.

Induction into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, with a rare few exceptions, isn’t usually granted until after you graduate.

Today, we’re making an exception.

In the end, her diploma will likely come from another school, it’s true.

But, after today, when you scroll to the top of the blog and peek under the Legends tab, you’ll find Ashlie Shank’s name right where it belongs.

One of us. Always and forever.

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Lindsey Roberts, doin’ work. (Photos by JohnPhotos.net)

No pressure, Lindsey Roberts, but this is your year.

In much the same way last year was about Hunter Smith making a run at claiming all the records, the 2018-2019 school year is set up to be the Year of Lou.

Even after dealing with an injury which cost him half his senior season, Smith graduated owning seven CHS football records.

He followed that up by burning up the nets, finishing his basketball career as the 11th highest scorer in Wolf boys basketball history.

While baseball stats are a trickier thing to track in the world of Cow Town sports, Smith put a cap on things by being named Olympic League MVP and helping lead the Wolves to their second conference crown in three years.

He was one of the best we’ve ever seen in a Coupeville uniform, and Roberts, a senior this year, is much the same.

Her parents, Jon and Sherry, are both former CHS Athlete of the Year winners.

Uncle Jay? Still on the school’s track record board 30+ years after graduation, a board where his niece appears three times already.

Lindsey’s cousins Madeline and Ally were stars, her grandfather Sandy a living legend, but Lou is primed to pass them all.

More than any other active athlete at CHS, she is within striking distance of breaking, tying or making a run at records – and in every one of her three sports.

So, here’s what to keep an eye on as the new school year unfolds:

 

Soccer:

Admittedly, this is the one which would be most difficult for her to accomplish.

Mia Littlejohn holds the CHS girls soccer career scoring record with 35 goals, and Kalia Littlejohn was hot on her heels with 33 through her first three seasons.

With Kalia opting not to play as a senior, Mia’s record gets a reprieve, and Roberts inherits the mantle as the leading active scorer for the Wolves.

She has 13 goals, notching six apiece the past two seasons after tallying a lone goal as a freshman.

Making that more impressive, she’s done so while playing almost exclusively as a defender, albeit one blessed with a cannon for a leg.

It’s more likely Genna Wright, who torched the nets for 10 goals as a freshman last year, will be the one ultimately coming for the record.

Still, you can’t discount the offensive fireworks Roberts can launch, even if she’s doing it from half a field away.

 

Basketball:

With a season to play, Roberts sits 36th all-time on the Wolf girls scoring chart with 298 points, and has increased her point totals each year.

She tossed in 54 as a frosh (good for #6 on the squad), raised that to 83 as a sophomore (#4), then soared to 161 as a junior, which topped the team.

While it’s unlikely she’ll catch Brianne King (1549), Zenovia Barron (1270) or Makana Stone (1158) atop the charts, Roberts still stands a very good chance of making a run at the top 20.

She stands 102 points away from becoming the 23rd Wolf girl to crack 400 career points, and a repeat of her 161-point junior year performance would carry her to #18 on the all-time list.

 

Track:

Roberts final prep season could be her greatest moment.

She enters her senior season having already claimed five state meet medals – a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th – and is one of only 10 Wolves, and one of only four girls, across 118 years, to pile up that kind of hardware.

Within her reach? Exiting as the most-decorated CHS female track athlete in school history.

If Roberts wins at least one medal next spring, and she has done so in each of her three previous seasons, she breaks a tie with Yashmeen Knox and rises to tie Natasha Bamberger.

Two medals, she joins Makana Stone with seven, or match her freshman total of three, and she finishes with eight, trailing only Tyler King (11) and Kyle King (10).

Roberts came dangerously close to winning a state title in the hurdles as a junior, nipped at the end by Lillian Kirry, a sophomore from Chewelah.

If she can return the favor next spring, Roberts would be the first Wolf to win a state title in any sport since Tyler King wore the 1A boys cross country crown in 2010.

So, buckle in, keep an eye on the stats and prepare for eight months of excitement — the Year of Lou begins.

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Coupeville senior Danny Conlisk flies through the summer track season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Hittin’ the big time. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Never forget where you came from.

Danny Conlisk may have spent the summer running near and far, competing for the Kitsap Fliers and advancing all the way to the national Junior Olympics track and field meet, but he still lives by those words.

The Coupeville High School senior, also fond of shaking the hands of each foe on the oval, benefited from the support of local fans, even if they couldn’t see most of his summer meets in person.

So, we’re turning over the mic to Mr. Conlisk, who wants to make sure everyone in Wolf Nation knows how much he appreciates them.

THANK YOU!!

I couldn’t have ever imagined the change that did come my way just from moving to a small town on an Island.

The support from my community, friends, family, teachers, coaches, board members, bus driver, teammates and my mom’s coworkers too is truly amazing.

Thank you for cheering me on and supporting me in my running world.

Coupeville has made me who I am today, because of people like you.

Elizabeth, Peggy, Melody, Erin, Jaime, Kathy, Jackie, Kathleen, Ann, Marci, Karen, Janette, Melinda, Natasha, Jamie, Judie and Bob, your generous financial support to help my family go with me to Nationals deeply touches me.

I know this journey in life isn’t mine alone.

Knowing I have so many cheering me on, pushes me to run even harder.

As I head into my senior year of high school, I look backwards to how far I have come.

From my first day at Coupeville Elementary School (which was the middle of 4th grade), reading my essay as the shy kid at 5th grade moving on, trying out for track in 8th grade (after never playing a sport in my life), to being the student school board member.

A solid platform under me now, that has set the stage for my future.

Never wanting to be the cocky jock, and still learning it’s OK to celebrate being good at something.

Knowing you all are behind me helps.

While Nationals didn’t turn out as I wanted, it was a giant highlight and learning experience. Not a wasted trip at all.

Knowing I went there ranked third in our region, and ended up in the top 61 in the whole United States, is still something to celebrate.

The advice on my form, stretches, jumping and starts from so many coaches, who just were eager to share and celebrate, was a priceless gift.

I am excited to head into my senior year of cross country (first official practice was today, first meet is on the second day of school).

Hoping to get into some indoor track meets this winter and the cherry on top will be ending my high school senior year in track and, if I keep training hard, right back to state championships in the 400.

Thank you again for running with me.

Sincerely,

Danny Conlisk

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Adrianna Royal has been hired to coach track and cross country at the University of California-San Diego. (Photo courtesy Dena Royal)

Adrianna Royal’s fleet feet continue to carry her to success.

A standout runner in high school and college who competed for Coupeville through her freshman year, the one-time Wolf has been hired as an assistant coach at the University of California-San Diego.

Royal, who previously coached at NAIA school Southern Oregon University, joins an NCAA school which is scheduled to move up from D-2 to D-1 in 2020.

She was hired to work with both the cross country and track and field teams at UCSD.

During her two years at Southern Oregon, Royal was part of a coaching staff which developed six All-American runners.

She started her high school running career in Coupeville, winning six races spread across four events (1600, 3200, 4 x 1 relay, 4 x 4 relay) during her freshman season.

After transferring to Oak Harbor, she picked up another 26 wins in three seasons, claimed a 6th place medal in the 800 as a senior, and become one of the best young steeplechase runners in the nation.

Royal competed at the USATF National Junior Olympics multiple years, earning trips to the big dance in both track and field (800, 1500, 2K steeplechase) and cross country.

She finished 2nd in the nation in the steeplechase in 2010 and 2011, and notched All-American status twice as a high school harrier.

That carried her to the world of D-1 athletics, where she ran cross country and track for Sacramento State, helping the school win four straight Big Sky titles on the oval.

Royal earned a Bachelor’s degree at Sac State, majoring in communication studies with a concentration in digital media.

She has since followed that up with a Master’s in Intercollegiate Athletic Leadership/Coaching from the University of Washington.

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Mckenzie Meyer, ready to unleash sweet sounds. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Her future’s so bright, she has to wear shades.

The absolute master of the positive approach.

She was just born talented.

I have known Mckenzie Meyer since the day she popped in to the world, the first of two children born to Sarah and Frank Meyer.

That was back in the lazy, hazy glory days of being paid to watch movies (and do a little managerial work) at Videoville, a 12-year run in which I worked for Mckenzie’s grandmother, Miriam.

The newest Meyer made her video store debut at a very young age, and from the first moment she eyeballed all of us from her perch on the counter, she radiated intelligence.

And I don’t mean she just seemed smart.

I mean she seemed like she was going to cure a disease while solving world hunger while also teaching herself to read Mandarin in the two minutes of free time she had every day.

It’s a feeling which has increased every day since.

Mckenzie is too smart, and too talented, and too awe-inspiring, for one small town on a rock in the middle of the water in the Pacific Northwest to contain, but we here in Coupeville have benefited immensely from what time we have had her here.

Today, I’m inducting her into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

In the moment, that’s something (maybe not epic, but worthy of a nod at least), being enshrined inside these hallowed digital walls.

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

And, about two seconds after she lands up there, she’ll probably win a much-bigger, much-better award or three.

I feel fully confident that in a few years or so, being in my little, sorta fake Hall o’ Fame should still be at least the 245th biggest thing she’s done. Maybe…

Mckenzie, as much as any high school athlete or student I have seen come through Cow Town, is fated to be big. Like world famous big.

She has a personality which is a mixture of joy and wonderment, and she charges full-tilt at any and every obstacle or opportunity with a grin which wraps up the whole world in a hug.

Give her a sport, any sport, and she did well.

In cheer, she was a volcano erupting, showering everyone with school spirit. A captain who was the loudest, the proudest, and the first to pick up her teammates, those she was cheering for, and the fans.

It could be an epic win or a crushing defeat, and Mckenzie tackled things with the same glee, the same desire to make every performance the best she ever delivered.

And if lil’ bro Caleb was playing? Miss Meyer could turn the sound system up to 120, thank you very much.

Her spirit and never-say-die attitude carried over to her time on the soccer pitch, the tennis court, and the world of track and field, where she competed in a gazillion events, including holding the school record in the pole vault.

Sports, though, are but a small sliver of what makes Mckenzie the whirlwind she is.

She was a veteran of the stage, bouncing from comedy to drama as an award-worthy thespian.

A woman born to wail when you put a sax in her hand and fired up the band.

Toss her into the cutthroat world of Science Olympiad? She made Einstein sit up in his grave, just so he could bow in appreciation of her skill.

Look, I’m not impartial here.

I think Mckenzie is one of the most talented, kind, brilliant people on the face of this planet.

Seeing her grow up, holding on to the fire that burns brightly inside, while always challenging herself and achieving remarkable things, has been great.

I think the world of this young woman. Did when she was a few days old, did when she first went to school, do today, and will many years down the road.

There’s a ton of reasons to induct Mckenzie into my Hall o’ Fame.

The biggest one? She classes up the joint.

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