Posts Tagged ‘Catherine Lhamon’

Alana Mihill is ready to rumble. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

This blog turns nine years old August 15, and to mark the occasion, I’m picking what I view as the best nine Wolf athletes from each active CHS sport.

To be eligible, you had to play for the Wolves between Aug. 2012-Aug. 2021, AKA the “Coupeville Sports” years.

So here we go. Each day between Aug. 2-15, a different sport and (probably) a different argument.


They’re building back.

After a two-decades absence, during which time a handful of runners trained and traveled with either Oak Harbor or South Whidbey, Coupeville High School cross country roared back to life in 2018.

Guided by coaches Natasha Bamberger, Luke Samford, and Elizabeth Bitting, the Wolf harriers have spent three seasons building their numbers, while establishing a home course, and sending two runners to state.

While other CHS programs have six more seasons in the books during the Coupeville Sports days, cross country still offered me more than enough athletic stars to form a mythical nine.

Danny Conlisk zips for the finish line.

Danny Conlisk — A two-time state champ in track, he’s one of two Wolves to make it to the big dance in cross country during the rebirth of the CHS harrier program.

Mitchell Hall — Speedy front-runner who is Coupeville’s fastest active boy.

Catherine Lhamon — Arguably the most-accomplished Wolf harrier in the modern era, she went to state as a junior, then went undefeated during a pandemic-altered senior season.

Claire Mayne — Plucky and determined, and never afraid of running in the middle of the pack, elbows swinging to fend off larger competitors.

Alana Mihill — Running with Lhamon, or by herself, a hard-working competitor who attacked the trail with a quiet fieriness.

Helen Strelow — Rock-solid running ace, one of the most-reliable runners Coupeville cross country coaches have had on their rosters.

Aidan Wilson — One of Coupeville’s quickest on the trails, until soccer’s move to the fall pulled him away from cross country.

Henry Wynn — Never got the chance to be part of the new CHS program, graduating mere months before its rebirth, but joined Conlisk in training and traveling with South Whidbey in the years beforehand.

Sam Wynn — The younger brother followed in big bro’s footsteps, pounding away to great success on the trails.

Catherine Lhamon, the face of Coupeville’s cross country rebirth.


Next up: We head to the sidelines to honor Wolf cheerleaders.

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Catherine Lhamon, #1 time and again. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Killer Cat led the revolution.

Over the past three years, as Coupeville brought its cross country program back to life at both the high school and middle school level, one athlete has been firmly at the forefront.

Catherine Lhamon, who graduated with the Class of 2021, was already an established distance runner with the Wolf track team in 2018.

But when cross country was reinstated after a two-decade pause at CHS and CMS, she quickly became the linchpin of the program.

That first season it was her and Danny Conlisk who immediately went to the front of the line for Coupeville, then Lhamon carried a leadership role the past two seasons.

Running for three coaches in as many seasons, Lhamon attacked the course with great passion, while providing a role model for the rapidly-growing group of younger runners coming up behind her.

As a junior, she made it to the state meet, while as a senior she went undefeated, winning all four races in a pandemic-altered season.

Celebrating a trip to state with coach Luke Samford. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Covid prevented Lhamon from making a bid at returning to state in 2021, but, as Coupeville’s lone senior, she was the quietly-fierce leader of her squad.

She dominated on the trails — including the first home meets CHS has held since the ’90s — winning all of her races by a minute-plus or better.

Lhamon was just as effective during her three seasons on the CHS track and field team.

Well, technically four, as she was primed and ready to rumble when the pandemic wiped out spring sports in 2020.

During her high school days, Lhamon regularly competed in the 800, 1600, and 3200, while also running on two different relay teams.

Showcasing her grit and determination, her best performances came in the longest event, as she won 3200 races every season she competed.

Zipping along in the Age of Coronavirus. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Distance running, whether track or cross country, is often the loneliest of all sports, as you’re out there by yourself, often with the field considerably stretched out.

It seemed to be a world built for Lhamon, however, as she always seemed to be a self-contained athlete — one who went out and demolished people, yet never seemed to need to thump her chest about how impressive she was.

And impressive is a word which truly fits Catherine, both in the world of running, and in the real world.

Like mom Helene and lil’ sis Carolyn, Killer Cat is undeniably brilliant, a highly-intelligent, highly-motivated young woman who is bound to make a huge positive mark on the world as she goes forward.

The long-distance Lhamon carries herself with a quiet grace, a near-flawless example to young Coupeville athletes, boys and girls.

I remember her younger days, when she played volleyball at the middle school level, and Catherine’s demeanor, work ethic, and commitment — to team and self — has never changed.

A young Killer Cat at work.

We’re supposed to root equally for all Coupeville athletes, but, truth be told, that’s never going to happen.

Some simply rise above the others, and through their actions, and the class they show at every step of the trail, become our favorites.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

Catherine Lhamon has always been one of the Wolves whose success felt earned, felt deserved, felt right.

When she did well, which was almost always, it has been very easy to be happy for her, and her family.

A stellar young woman being rightfully rewarded.

Today, we induct Miss Lhamon into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, adding her to a select list of those who have gone above and beyond.

Some of our inductees do it on skill alone. Others on attitude and intangibles.

Those who combine both, as Catherine does, stand apart even more, and are part of that 1% sitting atop the pyramid.

After this, when you bounce across the top of the blog, you’ll find her up there, under the Legends tab.

And, in the future, when next-gen Wolf athletes stop and ask, “Who was Catherine Lhamon?,” the answer will be an easy one.

“She was everything that was right about Coupeville sports.”

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Mitchell Hall had the fastest time of any CHS boy during a pandemic-altered cross country season. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Nozomi Hagihara was one of 13 Wolves to letter/

First in the clubhouse.

Cross country outsprinted four other Coupeville High School programs to become the first fall sport to honor its athletes for their performance during a pandemic-altered season.

Wolf coach Elizabeth Bitting handed out varsity letters to 13 of her runners Thursday, after first praising them for their refusal to quit, no matter how hard things may have gotten at times.

“Some of you began this crazy season last June and here we are, just about a year later, finally finishing up,” she said.

“I first want to thank those runners for sticking around for that long,” Bitting added. “You could have gotten frustrated and thrown in the towel but you stuck with it.

“Thank you!”

One of the highlights of a four-race season was the chance to host two of those meets at Coupeville’s new home course at Fort Casey State Park.

The second of those two home tilts was the Northwest 2B/1B League Championships, where Wolf senior Catherine Lhamon capped an undefeated season by winning a title by a solid minute-and-a-half.

Lhamon’s best time of 23 minutes, 43 seconds stands as a course record, along with sophomore Mitchell Hall, who zipped to the finish line in 19:23.

Bitting tallied up all of Coupeville’s times from that first home meet, the season opener, then compared them to the finale.

The Wolves as a team went from a combined 5:45.40 to 5:15.29.

“That’s a 30-minute improvement. Impressive!!!,” Bitting said. “There were six of you that PR’d from a very flat course to our gently rolling hilled course!

“Who does that? Who PR’s from a flat course! Great job!!!”

The biggest improvement from opener to finale belonged to Alex Merino-Martinez, who dropped 5:34, and Lhamon, who chopped off 3:17.

With a shortened season, Bitting opted for two ways a Wolf could letter.

They could finish in the top half of a race, which Lhamon, Helen Strelow, Cristina McGrath, Hall, Hank Milnes, and Reiley Aracely did.

Or they could improve their time from their first race to their last race, which seven other Wolves did.


Varsity letter winners:

Reiley Araceley
Alex Bowder
Josh Guay
Nozomi Hagihara
Mitchell Hall
Catherine Lhamon
Cristina McGrath
Alex Merino-Martinez
Hank Milnes
Grant Steller
Helen Strelow
Alex Wasik
Tate Wyman


Certificates of Participation:

Erica McGrath
TJ Rickner

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Catherine Lhamon zips through the flowers on her way to another cross country win. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Lhamon, here with family, was named a WIAA Athlete of the Week.

They appreciate her. They really appreciate her.

Coupeville High School senior Catherine Lhamon, who won all four of her cross country races, including the Northwest 2B/1B League Championships, was named an Athlete of the Week Thursday by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

The WIAA honors one male and one female athlete from each classification (4A-1B).

Lhamon, who is the lone senior on the CHS cross country squad, has been at the forefront of the sport since the Wolves returned to the harrier life in 2018.

She advanced to the state meet as a junior, and was dominant during a pandemic-altered final campaign.

Three of Lhamon’s four victories this season were by more than a minute, with her win in the league championship meet by a full minute-and-a-half.


To read about Lhamon and the other winners, pop over to:

WIAA | Washington Interscholastic Activities Association

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Nozomi Hagihara competes at the Northwest 2B/1B League Cross Country Championships. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“What a phenomenal finish to what’s been a crazy sports year!”

Coupeville High School cross country coach Elizabeth Bitting was all smiles Thursday, after the Wolves hosted, and competed strongly in, the Northwest 2B/1B League Championships.

The event went down at Fort Casey State Park, with 35 runners from CHS, Orcas Island, and Mount Vernon Christian tearing up the 3.1 mile course.

Coupeville senior Catherine Lhamon completed a flawless final campaign on the trails, earning the league title to cap a season in which she won all four of her races.

Catherine Lhamon hangs out with CHS coach Elizabeth Bitting.

The state meet veteran was joined at the top of the chart by teammates Helen Strelow and Mitchell Hall, who finished second and third in their races, respectively.

Mount Vernon Christian sophomore Devin Van Zanten matched Lhamon, completing a 4-0 season of his own and winning the boys individual title.

MVC, which had five of the top six male runners on the day, cruised to the boys team title, with Coupeville nipping Orcas for second.

There were no team scores on the girls side, as none of the three schools had a full five-woman roster.

While Lhamon’s stellar prep cross country career ends, Coupeville loses only two of its 13 runners, with foreign exchange student Nozomi Hagihara also exiting.

Of the other 11 Wolves who ran this season, eight were sophomores and three were freshmen.

Sophomore Mitchell Hall is part of a bright future for the Wolf harrier program.

Add a strong group of middle school harriers ready to make the jump to high school, and the Wolf program, which has been back in action three seasons now after a 20+ year absence, is in a good place.

A lot of the credit for that goes to Bitting, who coaches at CMS and CHS and is the ultimate promoter of the sport.

Though, as she always does, the sage of the trail loves to put the spotlight not on herself, but on her young runners.

“I am beyond proud of each athlete on this years cross country team,” Bitting said. “All their hard work, determination, and grit all came together in perfect harmony today on their home course!

“You know they are doing something right when five runners improve their time from a very flat course a week ago to a pretty hilly course today!

“Every runner has a reason to smile when they look at their finish time from their first race on the home course to today! Improvements galore!!!”

The backdrop Thursday at Fort Casey State Park.

Bitting loves to see her harriers claim PR’s and top finishes, but also takes great delight in the small grace notes.

“There were so many moments from today,” she said. “Celebrating Catherine on her last high school race ever; seeing everybody give it their all.

“Our wonderful foreign exchange student putting aside an injury to get one more race in; to seeing every athlete cheer on others and congratulations by athletes to athletes.”

Jackie Saia, shooting photos for the CHS yearbook, becomes one with nature.

While this wasn’t the easiest season, with the ongoing pandemic affecting how people trained, how they competed, even the time of year when they ran, Bitting will still look back on the adventure with fondness.

“It’s been a crazy sports season, but athletes like these make it so worthwhile!,” she said.

“Thank you for the memories! I hope you all have some great memories too!

“You are a great group of runners and I see some exceptional years ahead of you! But for now … take a day off, you earned it!!!!”

Pandemic or not, this year’s team endured and triumphed.


Complete Friday results:



Catherine Lhamon (1st) 23:43
Helen Strelow (2nd) 25:09
Cristina McGrath (4th) 25:24
Nozomi Hagihara (10th) 33:58



Mitchell Hall (3rd) 19:23
Hank Milnes (8th) 21:43
Reiley Araceley (11th) 22:00
Alex Merino-Martinez (15th) 23:04
Alex Wasik 
(16th) 23:21
Grant Steller (17th) 23:21
Tate Wyman (19th) 23:24
Josh Guay (21st) 25:01
Alex Bowder (22nd) 25:23


To see everything John Fisken shot (and possibly purchase some glossies for Grandma), pop over to:

XC 2021-05-06 at Ft. Casey – John’s Photos (johnsphotos.net)

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