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Coupeville grad Makana Stone was honored by Whitman College for her athletic and academic performance. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville’s Makana Stone was one of six student/athletes honored recently by Whitman College.

The former Wolf, who is headed into her senior year at the Walla Walla school, and her compatriots were hailed at the fourth annual fall awards picnic.

Whitman’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is made up of current athletes, chose two top performers each from last year’s freshman, sophomore, and junior classes.

The picnic was a way to bring together athletes from all 15 Blues varsity sports programs, while also including the incoming freshmen recruiting classes.

A barbecue was served and Whitman’s new Athletic Director, Kim Chandler, made her debut at the event.

The winners from the 2018-2019 school year:

Freshmen:

Bella White (swim)

Michael Chang (swim)

Sophomores:

Sage Ali (lacrosse)

Peter Sephens (soccer)

Juniors:

Makana Stone (basketball)

Travis Craven (baseball)

Whitman women’s basketball kicks off a new season with an exhibition game Nov. 2 in Ellensburg against Central Washington University.

The first game to count in the win/loss standings arrives Nov. 15 when the Blues host Concordia University during the 2019 Whit Classic.

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Former Wolf QB Hunter Downes owns the Coupeville High School record for most touchdown passes in a career. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

His bones sometimes betrayed him, but his heart never did.

Over the course of a four-year run at Coupeville High School, Hunter Downes fought through too many injuries, many of which might have derailed someone with less drive and grit.

But, each time he snapped or bent something new, the 2018 CHS grad bounced back, his body healing (at least for a moment).

The gleam in his eye? That never vanished.

Downes always seemed to me like one of those rare athletes who really, truly lived for every moment they got on the field, the court, or the pitch.

Even wracked by more injuries than the average Wolf, he suited up for a sport in all 12 seasons he was granted.

Football and basketball were his mainstays for all four years, while a brief foray into track and field soon gave way to life on the soccer pitch.

Through it all, he was always front and center, though he brought different skill sets to each sport, and filled often vastly-different roles for his teams.

As a soccer player Downes was a rough-and-ready enforcer who also had a nimble touch around the net when needed.

Celebrating a goal on the soccer pitch.

Playing with many of the highest-powered scorers in program history, he didn’t have to carry the offensive load.

That didn’t mean he couldn’t sting an opposing goalie when the moment was right, though.

On the basketball court, Downes filled a similar complementary role.

His four seasons of high school hoops were shared with Hunter Smith, who finished as one of the most-prolific scorers in school history.

While Downes often played a set-up role, it was one he seized with wild abandon.

A smooth passer who could make the nets sing when he shot, he largely made his name as a force in the paint.

Often giving up height and weight advantages to the rival burly brawlers he faced off with, Downes lived to snatch as many rebounds as humanly possible.

Using guile, positioning, and a nice stubborn streak which kept his butt anchored down low even while being roughed up, he never backed down.

Ever.

Rumbling in the paint.

His knack for cleaning the glass, on both ends of the court, was huge.

Whether taking the ball back up strongly, or dealing it to waiting shooters, Downes was a master at giving the Wolves second (and third, and fourth) chances.

But, of all his sports, football is the one where he may have shone most brightly.

A gun-slinging quarterback who enjoyed juking would-be tacklers out of their shoes before firing balls into triple coverage, Downes rarely played it safely on the gridiron.

Named the starter as a sophomore, he saw his first season in charge of the varsity offense end prematurely, derailed by an early-season injury.

Fighting his way back, Downes popped back behind center the next season and stayed there, through bruising sacks and awkward collisions, always flinging the ball skyward on a wing and a prayer.

More often than not, it worked out, as he hooked up with Smith, Cameron Toomey-Stout and Co., ripping off big chunks of yardage and crowd-pleasing touchdowns.

When he finally limped off the field at the end of his run, Downes, even having lost out on most of his sophomore campaign, landed among the most productive QB’s in CHS history.

His 35 career touchdown passes are the most in school history, while he also shares the single-game mark of four scoring bombs with Wolf legends Corey Cross and Brad Sherman.

Downes came dangerously close to catching Sherman for the school’s career mark in passing yards, and saved one of his best moments for the very end.

Tied with Sherman at 33 career passing TD’s, Downes had watched most of his key receivers KO’d by season-ending injuries.

He had very few reliable targets left as his senior season rolled to an end, and he was getting hit at a steady rate himself, as the starters on his line also suffered through a considerable wave of injuries.

But, weaving and bobbing, Downes connected on the record-setting heave, dropping the ball onto the hands of his close childhood friend, Jake Hoagland.

In a season of pain and misery for the Wolves, the fling and catch produced not just a record, but a thin sliver of pure joy.

For a moment, all the action around them came to a screeching halt and two friends etched their names into the record books while recreating some of the magic from their backyard days.

Downes was limping as the post-touchdown celebration played out, having been blasted once again.

But he was also grinning.

Like I said, Downes, more than many, really seemed to enjoy his time as a high school athlete.

He might not have gotten all the opportunities he deserved, but he took advantage of every single one he was given.

Today we honor Hunter for his stats, but also for the way he played — attacking every day, every game, always trying to get the most out of every play.

As the newest member of the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, he joins former teammates and the old-school giants whose records he chased.

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

It’s a fitting home for a guy who never let an injury slow his roll, a guy who lived to be a ballplayer, and a dude who made sure to play every game like it was the most important contest of his life.

Bring it on. (David Stern photo)

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Allison Wenzel is the only CHS athlete in at least a decade-plus to make it to state in three separate sports. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

A master of many instruments, she also went to the state championships in music.

“Let the bodies (and the braids) hit the floor!!”

Allison Wenzel can do everything.

And, if not, give her a day or two and she’ll master whatever new task you try and throw her way.

A Japanese-born American bad ass, Allison combines blistering talent with a serene spirit.

She’s one of the most genuinely kind people you will meet.

Unless you’re trying to take a basketball away from her, then she will get all up in your business and leave you to bleed out in an alleyway.

Metaphorically.

Or, possibly for real…

During her days at Coupeville High School, Wenzel, a 2018 grad, was a non-stop whirlwind.

She was one of four students in her class to play a sport in every season of her prep career, putting in four campaigns apiece in volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

A role player who sacrificed for the team, she had her greatest achievement at the very end of her high school career.

Standing alone after so many years of playing for others, Wenzel advanced to the state track and field championships in the discus.

Once in Cheney, she let fly with the best throw of her career in her swan song, ripping off a PR and claiming 9th place in all of 1A.

That solo run in the spotlight allowed Wenzel to achieve something very few Wolves have, reaching the state tourney in three separate sports.

She’s the only Coupeville athlete to pull off the trifecta in the last decade-plus.

You’d have to go back to the early 2000’s, when Wolf girls basketball and volleyball squads went to state on a regular basis, to find a time when there might possibly be another three-timer.

In recent years there have been a number of talented Coupeville female athletes who made it to state in two sports.

Makana Stone. Skyler Lawrence. Emma Smith. Maya Toomey-Stout. Lindsey Roberts. Sarah Wright. Kyla Briscoe. Emma Mathusek. Payton Aparicio. Chelsea Prescott. Lauren Rose. Scout Smith. Lauren Grove.

Ferociously successful, one and all, but the needle stopped at two, and hasn’t made it to three for any of them.

Yet…

Four of those Wolf girls still have at least a school year left in their careers, so hope lives.

Coupeville boys? Yeah … there’s been a bit of a dry spell.

We’re talking the late ’80s as the last time there’s the possibility of finding a male Wolf who went to state in three sports.

Chad Gale, certainly, and, after that, we’d need to do some more research.

Today, though, we know Wenzel stands at the top of the peak for recent athletes, alone and untouched.

Chalk it up to talent, commitment, and drive.

Others skipped seasons, took time off, stayed on the sidelines.

Not Wenzel.

As a sophomore, she was on the girls basketball team which squared off with perennial powerhouse Cashmere, falling just short of making it to the final eight.

Then, as a senior, she went East with the volleyball squad, where the Wolves tangled with heavy hitters Castle Rock and Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), before capping things during track season.

Actually, Wenzel made it to state four times, as she also was the queen of the music set.

A master of many instruments, she went to the big dance as a musician, qualifying both as a solo artist (interpreting Mozart on the French Horn) and as part of a duo with Jakobi Baumann.

So, it comes as little surprise that the effortlessly-talented Wenzel is currently pursuing studies in musical education at Central Washington University, wowing a whole new crowd.

For her hustle on the court, her displays of power in the throwing arena, and her artful musical noodlings, plus her kindness, her huge heart, and her love of Star Wars (bonus points!), it’s time to acknowledge all she accomplished, and all that is yet to come.

Allison Wenzel is a bright star streaking across the night sky, one who lights up everything in her path and inspires all of us down here on planet Earth.

Putting her in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, which we do today, is something she richly deserves.

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

Out in the real world?

She’ll be winning real awards left and right, quietly being awesome, cause she couldn’t be anything else.

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Gavin O’Keefe is a little older now than he was in this photo, but his basketball skills remain on-point. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

No subs, no worries.

Playing with the minimum three players, “Trust the Process,” a team headed up by former Coupeville High School basketball stars Kramer and Gavin O’Keefe, finished second at a 3-on-3 hoops tourney Saturday on the South end of the Island.

The hot-shooting brothers teamed up with Kyle Collins to come within a late three-ball of winning the title, before falling to the Monstars, a squad led by former South Whidbey High School supernova Parker Collins.

“Trust the Process” dropped a close opening game, then ripped off three straight wins to emerge from the loser’s bracket and get their shot at the Monstars, who finished 4-0 in tourney play.

The five-team, double-elimination event, which is in its ninth year, was hosted by LM Premier and the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District.

Played outside on the Rotary Court, which was built thanks to money raised by previous 3-on-3 tourneys, the hoops extravaganza raised funds for a scholarship program which covers youth basketball registration fees for families in need.

Along with the games, the event included a three-point shooting contest, won by current SWHS player Nick Young.

During their time at CHS, the O’Keefe brothers, who are part of arguably the most-successful basketball-playing family in school history, both had stellar careers.

Kramer rattled the rim for 636 points, which puts him #27 all-time on the Wolf boys career scoring chart, which has been adding names for 102 seasons.

He’s second among family members, with uncle Randy Keefe sitting at #3 all-time with 1088 points.

A horrifying string of injuries prevented Gavin from flying up the scoring chart as far as he would have, but, when he was healthy, he was a spark plug for the Wolves, playing his heart out and drilling jumpers from all angles.

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Foster Faris, one of the best athletes in CHS history, and also a tough son of a gun.

Kids were just tougher in the ’70s.

Or, parents, coaches, and doctors weren’t as sensitive.

One of the two, but I’m going with a lot of the first, and a little of the second.

Case in point, Foster Faris, universally hailed as one of the best athletes to ever suit up for Coupeville High School.

I was leafing through old Whidbey News-Times clippings today when I stumbled across a story from June 16, 1977.

The piece hailed Faris for being named the 76-77 CHS Athlete of the Year, an honor he earned after playing football, basketball, and baseball.

During his days on the gridiron, he played quarterback, split end, cornerback, punter, and placekicker.

In basketball, Faris pumped in 668 points, and still stands as the 21st highest scorer after 102 seasons of Wolf boys hoops.

He was #10 when he graduated, long before the three-point line arrived.

And while Faris scored oodles of buckets, he also led the Wolves in assists and steals as a senior.

That season, Coupeville fell just short of state — denied by a two-point loss to Bellevue Christian — robbing Faris of a third-straight trip to the big dance.

Once spring sprung, the guy hailed as “Mr. Everything” hit .406 for the Wolf baseball squad, stole 32 bases, picked up 17 RBI’s and scored 35 runs as CHS romped to a fourth-straight league title.

The ’70s were a decade of excellence for Coupeville, probably the best run male athletes have ever had in Cow Town.

And Faris was as good an athlete as Wolf fans have ever witnessed.

But the point of this story, today, is to highlight two paragraphs from that ’77 story.

Paragraphs which caught my attention, paragraphs which will never be written in a modern-day story.

Here they are:

Although only 135 pounds (127 during football season), Faris has proved to be quite durable, with his only serious injuries coming during football season.

A broken finger, two brain concussions and a sprained ankle, all incurred while playing cornerback on defense, have never caused Faris to miss more than part of a game.

Gol-dang!

Now, I know what you’re going to say. Modern medicine is making people safer, yadda yadda yadda.

Stow it.

It was 1977, a time when a six-year-old me would ride around town (and on the freeway) sitting on the engine block of my dad’s work van.

Which meant every time my dad’s foot jammed through the brake pad, my head bounced off the wind-shield and then I flew into the back of the van, where all his jagged carpet cleaning tools and giant pump bottles of weird chemicals were waiting to break my fall.

I was six, Foster Faris was 17, and we were just tougher than these whippersnappers today. End of story.

Now get off my lawn!

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