Posts Tagged ‘8th grade’

Aleksia Jump and her classmates enter Coupeville High School as freshmen this fall.

They’re taking a big step forward.

The Class of 2026 officially became high schoolers Wednesday, as Coupeville Middle School held its 8th grade passage ceremony.

There are 54 Wolves set to make the transition from CMS to CHS this fall, and the photos in this story — which come to us courtesy their parents — capture some of them in the moment.


Movin’ on up:

Chase Anderson
Sofia Bharati
Abbigail Bond
Blake Burrows
Carly Burt
Teagan Calkins
Jennifer Camarena-Herrera
Coop Cooper
Alpha Crandall
Marquette Cunningham
Valeria de Jesus Merino
River Dearmond
Jordaya Dowell
Rover Drake
Parker Fuller-Hewitt
Camden Glover
Easton Green
Tara Halterman
Halley Hibbard
Devinion Hill
Aleksia Jump
Duke Kutz
Matthew Kuzma
Peyton Lucero
Joshua Lujan
Connor McClain
Andrew Milnes
Grier Mooney
Mari Moore
Zachary Neiman
Aiden O’Neill
Brynn Parker
Alexa Richardson
Angelo Rodriguez
Dmitri Rude
Jacob Schooley
Heidi Schroeder
Kyrese Simpson-Pilgrim
Cedar Socha
Malachi Somes
George Spear
Alexander Stinnett
Alexis Stinnett
Frankie Tenore
Wilbur Terpening
Kierra Thayer
Caitlin Thomas
Justin Truex
Sydney Wallace
Hailee Wells
Noelle Western
Madison Williams
Avery Williams-Buchanan
Liza Zustiak


Frankie Tenore

Blake Burrows

Teagan Calkins

Brynn Parker

Camden Glover

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Coupeville High School boys tennis coach Ken Stange needs players. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Step up and stand out.

Coupeville Middle School 8th graders can participate in high school sports a year early, as long as they’re interested in playing soccer or tennis this fall.

Along with other 2B or 1B schools, Coupeville High School is allowed to use 8th graders when there is a genuine need to help keep programs afloat.

Last school year, middle school students played high school girls basketball and boys soccer.

Four 8th graders — Lyla Stuurmans, Cael Wilson, Savina Wells, and Preston Epp — played on varsity teams, with another five seeing action for the Wolf JV girls hoops team.

This fall, three of six CHS programs are accepting 8th graders, with boys and girls soccer, and boys tennis all in need of extra players.

Volleyball and cross country expect to have sufficient numbers, so high school and middle school athletes will remain separate in those sports.

Football is the one fall sport where 8th graders are not eligible to play at the high school level, regardless of need.

The chance to play at the high school level as an 8th grader is an extra bonus for many Wolves, as the middle school does not have a girls soccer program, and does not offer tennis.

The first day of practice for CHS fall sports teams is Monday, August 23.

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Cael Wilson made history Wednesday, becoming the first 8th grader to score in a Coupeville High School boys soccer game. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They ain’t seen nothing like this before.

Coupeville High School has been playing boys soccer continuously since 2004 — except for last spring, when Covid erased all prep sports.

So, now, during this oddest of seasons, a pandemic-shortened campaign in which traditional fall sports are being contested in the spring, it had to end this way — if it is ending.

Putting a cap on a season in which the soccer program was shut down due to insufficient numbers, then saved when tennis was cancelled, the Wolf booters fell 2-1 Wednesday at La Conner.

“They’re a good team,” said Coupeville coach Robert Wood. “They played well and really wanted the win.

“We played well but just gave away too many balls with players out of positions.”

But hold on just a doggone second, cause here’s where things go sideways in 27 different directions.

First, the game may (or may not) count as an official contest.

No refs showed for the pitch rumble, so Wood and his La Conner counterpart manned the whistles.

“We relived our golden days!,” the Wolf pitch guru said with a laugh.

The whole no refs thing may mean the loss won’t be official and drop the Wolves to 1-4 on the season. Instead, it may be classified as a “friendly.”

Soccer Nation waits anxiously for word from CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith, who, hopefully, is otherwise enjoying a quiet evening during a school year which would have driven a weaker man batty.

Second, it may not be the final game of the season.

It is the last one on the regular season schedule, yes.

But, Northwest 2B/1B League officials have been working on a “playoff” plan in which the top six schools from the seven-team league will face off in … MORTAL KOMBAT!!!!!

Or a bunch of soccer games.

Just sayin’ the first choice is the best choice.

Anyways, the games will feature the league’s #1 team versus its #2, #3 vs. #4, and #5 vs. 6.

Regardless of whether Wednesday’s game counts or not, Coupeville should be one of those latter two teams, as Grace Academy finished 0-5-1 and clinched dead-last after losing to league champ Orcas Island.

So, one more game Friday, maybe, possibly?

Want to know the opponent and whether it’s home or away? The nation turns its lonely eyes to Willie Smith one more time, and, hopefully, he turned his phone off for a few hours.

For our third unusual tangent, we return to Wednesday’s game, where those in La Conner witnessed something I don’t believe has ever happened in a Coupeville High School boys soccer game.

A middle school player scored for the Wolves.

Step up Cael Wilson, younger brother of team scoring leader Aidan, and claim your bit of history.

With CHS back in the 2B classification, and the soccer program in need of saving, the Wolves were able to add 8th graders to their roster, and Cael Wilson and Preston Epp answered the call.

Wednesday night, in the 17th season of Wolf boys soccer, the stars lined up just right.

Aidan Wilson, a sophomore, sent a cross which eluded two other Wolf players and two La Conner defenders, with the ball popping right out in front of his younger brother.

Cael was hanging out in the Zen zone and just placed it right to the corner,” Wood said.

My soccer stat hunting has been an uphill battle, as some scoring records have vanished into the mists of time, and the local newspapers didn’t spend a lot of time documenting the early seasons of the program.

But, prior to Wednesday, I had tracked down 57 Wolf boys who found the back of the net in a CHS varsity game.

From Abraham Leyva, who sits atop the career scoring chart with 45 goals, to guys like Tanner Kircher, Laurence Boado, and Zeb Williams, who celebrated once, it’s a semi-complete record of pitch excellence.

None of those 57 soccer scorers was still in middle school when he punched home a goal however, as far as I know.

Which puts Cael Wilson in the company of a mere handful of Wolf athletes who have hit pay-dirt in a high school game before being an actual, you know, high schooler.

The gold standard is “Big” Mike Criscuola, CHS Class of 1960, a man among boys on the basketball court, even as an 8th grader towering over his older teammates.

Who knows where Cael Wilson’s sports career will go. He might be a legend or a footnote. Only time will tell.

But either way, he’ll always have that moment on the La Conner pitch on May 5, 2021, when he did something I’m 99.2% sure no Wolf booter before him has accomplished.

In a season of weirdness, one bright shining moment to treasure.

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Coupeville HS/MS Athletic Director Willie Smith uses his powers judiciously. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

With great power comes great responsibility.

As Coupeville High School transitions from 1A down to 2B, Athletic Director Willie Smith has new options at his fingertips, but will be careful in how he deploys these.

One rule which has caught the eyes of a lot of parents and athletes is the one which allows 2B schools to use 8th graders on high school teams.

It’s allowed in two situations.

In the first, if Coupeville Middle School doesn’t offer a specific sports program which the high school does, such as tennis, softball, or baseball, 8th graders can be allowed to play up.

In the second, if a high school program has a significantly low turnout, 8th graders may be used to “save” a varsity team or allow a school to field both full varsity and JV squads.


While it’s possible we may see 8th graders participate on a Coupeville High School sports team, it will only happen under the second set of circumstances.

This is largely because Smith is doing his due diligence, seeking to work hand-in-hand with his fellow AD’s in the Northwest 2B/1B League, while creating an equal playing field for all eight schools in that revamped league.

Even though there are some talented CMS athletes who will be 8th graders next school year, the Wolves will resist the temptation to supplement their high school rosters just because they can.

If there is not a genuine need to keep a high school program afloat, middle school remains middle school, and high school remains high school.

“The intent of the rule is to help 1B/2B schools who may have low turnout numbers be able to field a varsity or junior varsity team,” Smith said. “If the numbers of participants are above those set numbers we will not even consider moving an 8th grade student up to the high school level.

“If a program is close in numbers to be able to field a sub-varsity (JV) program then we would consider moving up an 8th grade athlete or athletes IF they were willing to do so and IF it allowed us to participate with two full varsity and sub-varsity programs.”

The WIAA has set guidelines for roster size in five sports, and allows 2B schools to use 8th graders if turnout is below these numbers.

They are:

Baseball (25)
Basketball (16)
Soccer (25)
Softball (25)
Volleyball (17)

During the 2019-2020 school year, when Coupeville was still a 1A school and could not have taken advantage of the rule, its baseball program was well under the set number.

In those other four sports, CHS was at, or well above, the cutoffs.

Tennis, cross country, and track are not included on the list, though a similar philosophy of “saving” programs would likely be in effect.

While the latter two of those sports continue to have strong turnouts, tennis has taken a hit in recent seasons, with longtime coach Ken Stange working with some of his thinnest rosters in years.

Football is not included, as it can NOT use 8th graders.

As Coupeville adjusts to a new classification and opportunities, a key will be working smoothly with its new league mates.

“In discussing this with our 2B/1B League schools, who have had this rule at their disposal for many years now, they were clear that the intent of the rule, as well as the implementation of the rule by our league members has always been based on numbers and the salvaging of a program,” Smith said.

“Philosophically, this makes full sense to both myself and our administration and follows the same philosophy as outlined by league members.”

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The season is never truly complete until you get some pizza. (Photo courtesy Dante Mitchell)

Consider it a hardwood graduation.

Having wrapped their season Thursday, Coupeville Middle School 8th grade boys basketball players have finished one level of their hoops journey.

After this, hopefully, all nine Wolves who suited up this year will make the jump to join the high school program.

Having coached many of these players for both of their seasons in middle school, CMS 8th grade coach Dante Mitchell is like a proud father, sending his children onward and upward.

Friday, he made sure his players knew how much he appreciated them by holding an impromptu pizza party.

Gathered were Dominic Coffman, Jesse Wooten, Ty Hamilton, Alex Murdy, Josh Upchurch, Alex Wasik, Mitchell Hall, Kevin Partida, and Levi Pulliam.

“Pizza not for show, but because of the hard work and dedication,” Mitchell said. “I send my best wishes as these players move on to high school and bigger and better things.

“I’m so proud and grateful and blessed to have been able to get the opportunity to give back and coach such wonderful kids.”

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