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   Sage Renninger, seen here in an earlier match, teamed with Payton Aparicio Monday to win a third straight Olympic League doubles crown. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Vilma Jurma of Port Townsend, a Finnish foreign exchange student, placed second in singles at the league tourney.

   Coupeville senior Claire Mietus claimed fourth in singles and advances to the district tourney for the first time.

It went just about flawlessly.

Pretty much everything clicked into place Monday as Coupeville High School hosted the 1A Olympic League girls tennis tourney.

The weather morphed from early clouds into blazing sun, which was great except for one poor Klahowya netter who sat up from her towel late in the day to be met by muffled screams from her teammates.

“You are a lobster! No, I mean a red, REEEEEDDDDDD lobster!!”

Meanwhile, school groundskeepers were able to shepherd some wayward geese from the premises before they had a chance to unleash machine-gun-style poop. Always a win.

In the midst of all of that, CHS coach/tourney director Ken Stange pulled off a tight, well-oiled event which was done in time to let rival teams catch the early ferry, with nary a trace of drama, on-court or off.

Coupeville, as undisputed four-time league champs, had the most entries, claiming nine of the 24 slots.

By the end of the day that had held up, as the Wolves won a doubles title, tied for top honors in the team scoring race, and advanced five netters to next week’s district tourney.

CHS seniors Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger were the big winners, sweeping all three of their matches to claim a third straight doubles crown.

The team they beat in the final, Wolf sophomores Avalon Renninger and Tia Wurzrainer, played well above their seeding, taking out both of Klahowya’s doubles duos.

The youngest players to advance (eight seniors and two juniors will join them at districts), they had the match of the day.

That came in the semifinals, when Wurzrainer, whipping vicious cross-court returns and Avalon Renninger, peppering screaming left-handed winners, stomped on Klahowya’s #1 team.

“That! That was nice!!,” Stange said with a big grin as he strolled by in the aftermath.

The young Wolf duo benefited from the biggest cheering section of the day.

While school was in session Monday, many of their fellow athletes popped out during breaks, lunch or study hall.

Every Wolf had at least a few students on hand during their matches, but the clock timed out best for Avalon and Tia, who saw the bleachers jammed for their semifinal bout.

The two CHS doubles duos will be joined in Tacoma May 16-17 by senior singles player Claire Mietus, who is making her first trip to districts.

The top two finishers in singles and doubles at the two-day event, held at the Sprinker Tennis Center, advance to state.

Monday’s league tourney, which was missing Chimacum’s top two players, Renee Woods and Gladys Hitt, who had other commitments, opened with a winner-take-all first round.

Win a pro set and you were district bound, with later rounds (all best-two-of-three-sets) for deciding seeding. Lose and your season was done.

Wolf singles players Genna Wright and Heather Nastali and the doubles team of Kameryn St Onge and Maggie Crimmins fell in the first round.

Wright, who soared all the way to being Coupeville’s #1 player this season, is just a freshman, while the other three are seniors.

CHS sends five players to districts, while Klahowya (four, including singles champ Hailey Sargent), Chimacum (2) and Port Townsend (1) round out the Olympic League contingent.

 

Complete Coupeville results:

 

Genna Wright:

Lost to Maddy Rienks (Klahowya) 8-6

 

Claire Mietus:

Beat Makaela Caskey (Chimacum) 8-4
Lost to Vilma Jurma (Port Townsend) 6-1, 6-3
Lost to Rienks (Kla) 6-3, 6-0

 

Heather Nastali:

Lost to Jurma (PT) 8-0

 

Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger:

Beat Chiara Vignale/Claudia Garfis (PT) 8-0
Beat Grace Yaley/Chloe Patterson (Chim) 6-3, 6-0
Beat Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzainer (Coup) 6-0, 6-0

 

Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer:

Beat Anna Wells/Kelisha Harris (Kla) 8-0
Beat Taylor Bruce/Marianne Marker (Kla) 6-2, 6-3
Lost to Aparicio/S. Renninger (Coup) 6-0, 6-0

 

Maggie Crimmins/Kameryn St Onge:

Lost to Yaley/Patterson (Chim) 9-7

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   CHS tennis coach Ken Stange honored Heather Nastali and five other Wolf seniors Thursday. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   Kameryn St Onge fires a shot back against Chimacum as she and Maggie Crimmins stroll to a win.

Play to your strengths.

Getting a sweep from its four doubles teams Thursday, the Coupeville High School girls tennis squad pulled out a 4-3 win over visiting Chimacum and claimed its fourth-straight Olympic League title.

The only Wolf athletes to achieve the four-peat (CHS girls basketball fell a game short of a fourth title), the netters finish the season 5-1 in conference play, 7-8 overall.

Coupeville went 20-1 against Klahowya, Chimacum and Port Townsend across the past four seasons.

After opening with a 6-0 run in 2015 during the debut season of the Olympic League, the Wolves finished 5-0 and 4-0 the past two years.

In both of those seasons, they clinched the title early, and rain-outs against league foes weren’t made up, hence the smaller win/loss totals.

This season came all the way down to the finale, however.

Chimacum and Coupeville entered Thursday both sitting at 4-1, having split their two prior meetings.

With two varsity players, Genna Wright (WE Day in Seattle) and Zara Bradley (illness), unavailable, the Wolves shuffled their lineup a bit.

But, in the end, Coupeville got the same dynamic play from its doubles duos it has been able to rely on all season, regardless of how the lineup card is filled out.

While Stange hailed all of his duos, two made a big impression in the spotlight.

Seniors Maggie Crimmins and Kameryn St Onge, who have played together all four years, “wielded their magic racket wands once again.”

The duo are looking especially strong as they head into Monday’s Olympic League tourney (10:45 AM start at the CHS courts), where trips to districts will be decided.

Stange also praised sophomores Tia Wurzrainer and Avalon Renninger, whose win at #2 doubles was the deciding point in the battle for the team win.

The precocious netters knew the match, and title, hung on their bout, and embraced the honor, attacking with glee and then bumping rackets with a little more ferocity as they neared the win.

Avalon and Tia established themselves as a force to be reckoned with,” Stange said. “They were undefeated in league this year, and today they dispatched who will be Chimacum’s top duo in Monday’s tourney.”

With Wright and Bradley out, freshmen Emily Fiedler and Jaimee Masters also got a chance to step up, and it was a huge step.

After playing doubles all season, the two Wolves made their singles debut in the year’s biggest match, and both cracked their fair share of winners against veteran foes.

Emily and Jaimee dipped their toes into the varsity waters. They came up short, but played quite well,” Stange said. “This should bode well for them next season.”

Along with a league title hanging in the balance, Thursday was Senior Night for Wolf old-timers Payton Aparicio, Heather Nastali, Claire Mietus, Sage Renninger, Crimmins and St Onge.

Mietus and Nastali joined the tennis program as juniors while the other four went the whole way, and their coach got a bit misty-eyed as he honored all six.

“Twenty seasons of tennis from six seniors. That is a lot of time, effort, energy, and dedication,” Stange said. “Coupeville’s Class of 2018 made a positive impact on the CHS tennis program.

“It’s been an honor working with you all over the past four years,” he added. “I know the six of you are destined for great things in life, and I hope that you continue making tennis one of your lifetime sports.”

Nastali was praised for her “flexibility in playing in whatever spot was needed on a given day” and Mietus for her “willingness to play the best players that the big schools had to offer.”

Stange noted that St Onge, “the most acrobatic person on our team” and Crimmins, “the person with the sunniest disposition,” had spent four years as doubles partners, “and you’re still friends!”

When it came to his captains, Aparicio and Sage Renninger, the net guru informed them they were the best girls doubles duo, hands down, he has coached in his 13 years at the helm of the CHS program.

“You were the Alpha Wolves before you even knew it,” Stange said, emotion in his voice. “I’ll never forget that first week of 9th grade tennis and how you broke the hearts of so many aspiring #1 doubles teams.

“You were so darned nice about it, too!,” he added. “You never backed down, and you’ve never looked back.

Sage and Payton, thank you both for setting the standard. Thank you for the wins, for the giggles, for the leadership, for paying it forward and being outstanding stewards of the program.”

 

Complete Thursday results:

Varsity:

1st Singles — Heather Nastali lost to Gladys Hitt 6-1, 6-0

2nd Singles — Jaimee Masters lost to Renee Woods 6-0, 6-0

3rd Singles — Emily Fiedler lost to Makaela Caskey 6-2, 6-4

1st Doubles — Payton Aparicio/Sage Renninger beat Marley Music/Christina Bell 6-0, 6-0

2nd Doubles — Avalon Renninger/Tia Wurzrainer beat Grace Yaley/Chloe Patterson 6-1, 6-3

3rd Doubles — Maggie Crimmins/Kameryn St Onge beat Madison Hess/Denisse Lopez 6-1, 6-3

4th Doubles — Jillian Mayne/Claire Mietus beat Chiara Vignale/Claudia Garfis 6-3, 6-0

JV:

5th Doubles — Nanci Melendrez/Elaira Nicolle beat Jaden Long/Olivia Mattern 6-0

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   Wolf catcher Gavin Knoblich had two hits Friday as Coupeville toppled Chimacum and moved closer to clinching an Olympic League title. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Captain Cool struck again.

Coupeville High School ace Hunter Smith wasn’t flawless Friday, but he was perfect when it mattered, and now Wolf baseball is a win away from claiming its second Olympic League title in three years.

Backed by stellar, error-free play from his defenders, especially infielders Joey Lippo, Matt Hilborn and Dane Lucero, Smith shut down Chimacum, tossing a complete-game 2-0 shut-out.

The win, Coupeville’s fifth-straight and ninth in its last 10 games, lifts the Wolves to 6-1 in league play, 12-4 overall.

CHS is a game up, with two to play, on the Cowboys (5-2, 7-8) and hold the tiebreaker, having taken two of three after pulling off back-to-back shut-outs at home against their chief rivals.

“I love the goose eggs, love ’em!,” said a jubilant Coupeville coach Chris Smith.

His squad needs just a single win (it travels to Klahowya Monday, then hosts Port Townsend May 2) or a single Chimacum loss to officially clinch the title, which they last won in 2016.

The Cowboys, who are enjoying their best run in the Olympic League after three consecutive third-place finishes, have pushed the Wolves hard this season.

The first two meetings between the teams were one-run games, and this time a two-run lead seemed almost decadent.

Having escaped a brief first-inning jam when Hunter Smith whiffed a Cowboy with runners at the corners, Coupeville struck for the game’s only blood in the bottom of the second.

Flying on a high, as Smith punched out the Cowboys one-two-three in the top half of the inning, the Wolves capitalized on a huge Chimacum error.

Jake Hoagland led off the bottom of the second by swatting a chopper to third, before taking off like a bat out of Hell.

Slightly juggling the ball as he plucked it off the ground while on the move, Chimacum’s third-baseman tried to set his feet. It didn’t work.

The Cowboy fielder double-pumped, triple-pumped, then fired the ball to the moon, pulling his first-baseman off the bag as Hoagland thundered by.

Given unexpected life, Coupeville took immediate advantage.

Jake Pease, who would later take a nasty hit to the arm on a wayward pitch, had a much-happier first at-bat, plunking a single.

That set up the urban legend himself, Kyle Rockwell, a mountain among men, a titan capable of swatting the ball into the cars in the parking lot, who … dropped a bunt.

And it was a beauty of a bunt, too, perfectly placed into no-man’s land behind Chimacum hurler Cole Dotson.

Unable to make a play on the ball, Chimacum could only watch in horror as Hoagland streaked home with the game’s first run.

Meanwhile, the man perched safely on first was busy penning yet another chapter in his on-going best-seller, “I Rock: The Kyle Rockwell Story.”

Wanting to give his pitcher a bit more of a cushion, Wolf catcher Gavin Knoblich followed with equal flair, delivering a ringing RBI single back up the middle to make it 2-0.

While Chimacum escaped total disaster in the inning by nailing not one, but two, Wolves coming in hot to third, the damage was done.

Being careful to not let a single emotion flicker across his face while on the mound, Hunter Smith made big brother CJ, who patented the Captain Cool look while winning the ’16 title, a proud assistant coach on the Wolf bench.

And, while the CHS hurler was touched a few times more than normal, scattering seven hits, he and his teammates always had an answer.

Lucero, subbing at first base, pulled two low throws out of the dirt, then Lippo decided to get all dramatic and crank the defensive volume to crowd-pleasing levels.

Chimacum had a runner at second with two outs in the fourth, and said runner bolted as a Cowboy hitter launched a shot that had base hit stamped all over it.

The ball seemed to be too high for Lippo to snag at second, and was dropping too fast for Hoagland to catch on the run.

Until all of Lippo’s extensive ballet training (not a joke) came into play, as the Wolf senior, hauling tail, threw his glove over his shoulder.

Pulling off some Inspector Gadget “Go-Go-Gadget” action, one glove-clad limb extended as far as possible, Lippo made contact with the falling orb, punched it skyward, then hauled it back in, cradling the ball to his chest.

The sound you heard at that exact moment may have been his dad, Joe, hitting octaves not normally heard outside of an opera house.

He’ll deny it, of course, but we know the truth.

With the Chimacum fans openly sobbing (again, they’ll deny it, but we know the truth) the game sailed along through the sixth inning stuck at 2-0.

The Cowboys had one final bit of fight in them, however, bashing a pair of singles to left to kick off the top of the sixth.

Gathering his men on the mound, Chris Smith said a few words, then gave his son a small nod.

Hunter’s return nod was, of course, even smaller. Can’t mess with the brand.

Hilborn, though, wrapped his arm around his pitcher’s shoulder before he headed back to short, and might have said a few words.

If so, they were most likely, “I got this, man.”

The ensuing pitch came flying back off the bat, took a spinning hop and skidded towards Hilborn, who boldly looked destiny in the eye and accepted her challenge.

Shooting to his left, he slammed his foot through the bag at second for the force, then laid the ball into Lucero’s glove at first.

Hilborn’s throw came in on a sharp line, then tailed off at the end, landing softly with just a gentle whisper of “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

In 2.4 seconds (give or take one or two), Chimacum went from first and second and no one out to a lonely runner at third about to be stranded.

Slightly cocking one eyebrow — again, he has to stay on brand — Hunter Smith fired three straight strikes past the next Cowboy, buckling his knees an inch more with each fastball that exploded into Knoblich’s glove.

But, high school games go seven innings and not six, so while the air had been visibly punched out of the Cowboys, they still had the faintest flicker of hope left.

A one-out chopper that hit the fringe right in front of a charging Hilborn and skipped away presented Chimacum with its last, best hope in the seventh.

The Wolves would not be denied, though.

Rockwell, drifting way, way, way to his left while patrolling right field, tracked down a long foul ball, pulling it in for the second out.

That brought Issac Purser, Chimacum’s best player, to the plate, the last Cowboy standing.

Chimacum’s fans, prone to wailing (a lot), screamed and hollered and hooted and made a lot of bodily noises, then got really, really quiet as Purser punched a hole in the sky with a mile-high pop up.

Lippo, camped at second, had time to do his homework before the ball descended, but his glove was in place when it mattered.

Squeeze the ball, move within an inch of clinching the title. Mission, accomplished.

Knoblich, who has been a strong defensive player behind the plate this season, had his best offensive day, pacing the Wolves with two hits.

Hunter Smith added a pair of singles, while Pease and Rockwell rounded out the six-hit attack.

As he marinated in the moment, Chris Smith praised his team, top to bottom.

“We found a way to win once again,” he said with a slight chuckle. “It was a fun game and I’m very, very happy.

“Two shut-outs in a row against Chimacum, that’s huge. You know me, I absolutely LOVE those goose eggs!”

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   Wolf freshman Sam Wynn is playoff-bound in his first season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Mission, accomplished.

Taking care of business Friday, the Coupeville High School boys soccer squad thrashed host Chimacum 11-1, officially punching its ticket to the playoffs.

With the win, the Wolves rise to 5-3 in Olympic League play, 6-6-2 overall.

After finishing in third-place in each of the first three seasons of the four-team conference, CHS put together its most-successful run in its final campaign.

Coupeville jumps to the new six-team North Sound Conference this fall.

Before they depart, the Wolves finally got over the hump against Port Townsend, knocking off the RedHawks twice.

That was huge in a year in which only two teams made the postseason cut, instead of the usual three.

After wrapping the regular season Monday at home with Senior Night against Klahowya (7-0, 11-2-1), the Wolves will prep for their playoff opener.

That tilt arrives Saturday, May 5, and will be a “home” game held at Oak Harbor’s stadium.

As the #2 seed from the Olympic League, the Wolves will play the #3 seed from the Nisqually League, Bellevue Christian (9-4), in a loser-out game at 1 PM.

Win, and Coupeville advances to the double-elimination portion of districts, where two of four teams will advance to the state tourney.

To see the playoff bracket, pop over to:

http://www.olympicleague.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2658&sport=9

Facing a Chimacum squad which has been outscored 125-3 this season, the Wolves did what they could to keep the game mildly-competitive, while still making sure to get the win.

Senior captain William Nelson paced the Wolves, punching in four goals, which lifts his season total to seven.

Aram Leyva added his 10th score, while the Downes brothers, senior Hunter and freshman Sage, each collected a hat trick.

That gives Coupeville 58 goals (spread among 11 shooters), which is the most a Wolf boys soccer squad has scored in a single season.

The season-to-date scoring stats:

Derek Leyva – 21
Aram Leyva
– 10
William Nelson
– 7
Sam Wynn
– 4
Hunter Downes
– 3
Sage Downes
– 3
Pedro Gamarra
– 3
Ethan Spark
– 2
James Wood
– 2
Chris Cernick
– 1
Jonathan Partida
– 1

“Own” goal by other team – 1

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In this photo, you ignore the big picture and focus on what’s right in front of you. Coupeville baseball has the same mission. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Friday’s epic baseball showdown just got a little more … epic.

With both of their prior meetings coming down to a single run, very little separates Coupeville and Chimacum as they prep for a 4 PM game tomorrow, Apr. 27.

And now, thanks to an unexpected plot twist, the teams really are dead even.

Chimacum Athletic Director Tony Haddenham cleared up a nagging mystery Thursday, confirming Port Townsend forfeited a Mar. 21 game to the Cowboys.

While no reason has been given for the forfeit, that changes Chimacum’s record from 4-1 in 1A Olympic League play to 5-1, pushing them back into a tie with Coupeville.

The Wolves (11-4 overall) and Cowboys (7-7) essentially control their own destinies, at least until Friday’s game goes final.

Win out across your final three games and you can’t be denied.

Lose Friday, though, and you fall a game back with two to play, and then you’ll need some help, no matter who you are.

Coupeville, which is expected to send ace Hunter Smith to the mound Friday, is seeking a second league crown in the last three seasons.

That would be a fitting farewell present for the baseball program before CHS exits to the new North Sound Conference in the fall.

Chimacum has never finished higher than third in the previous three years of the four-team league.

 

UPDATE (6:30 PM Thursday):

A Port Townsend starter said the game was forfeited because the RedHawks couldn’t field a full lineup that day. 

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