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Through rain or sunshine (probably rain), the Coupeville Middle School cross country runners are ready for a new season. (Photo by Morgan White)

Cross country is booming.

A little over a week out from her team’s first meet, Coupeville Middle School coach Elizabeth Bitting has 27 runners on her roster, a group which includes a hardy mix of returning veterans and first-time competitors.

It’s an almost perfectly balanced roster as well, with 14 boys and 13 girls answering the call of the trail.

One new quirk is the addition of sixth-graders to the mix, as Washington state has opened cross country and track to them starting this school year.

The youngest members of the team won’t count towards point totals, but get a chance to discover the sport, which is invaluable.

“They will be attending all races with us and running in all races,” Bitting said. “They get to experience the whole adventure and get a sneak peak of their competition in the future. This is a good thing!

“Just last cross country season 6th grade athletes were not able to participate in any sport at the middle school level and now they can participate in cross country and track. Strides are being made.”

As the early practices have played out, Bitting has been thrilled to see how her runners are already embracing the sport.

“Week one has gone AMAZING!!!!,” she said. “All these students are incredible athletes. They have been working so hard and already showing so much dedication.

“I’ve even had to increase some of the runs because they were just up to it,” Bitting added. “For example, day one, I ran the route backwards and when I met up with the front pack I casually asked, “Up to running further?” Without a beat the leader answers, “Sure. Why not?” So they ran farther!”

The CMS harriers make their competitive debut Saturday, Sept. 21 at South Whidbey’s Carl Westling Invitational.

 

The roster:

GIRLS:

6th:

Dianne Brown
Teagan Calkins
Aleksia Jump
Brynn Parker
Liza Zustiak

7th:

Edie Bittner
Aubrey Blitch
Lillian Stanwood
Ayden Wyman

8th:

Erica McGrath
Samantha McMahon
Sofia Milasich
Marlen Montiel

 

BOYS:

6th:

Cody Badger
Adrian Cunningham
Malachi Somes
George Spear

7th:

Jack Porter
Johnny Porter
Landon Roberts
Thomas Strelow

8th:

Alex Clark
Dayvon Donavon
Hayden Harry
Hank Milnes
Gabe Reed
Cole White

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Hayden Harry was on the move Saturday as he and his CMS cross country mates ran the marathon relay at Race the Reserve. (Morgan White photos)

The Porter boys (one is Jack, one is Johnny, and I won’t pretend I can tell them apart yet) are here to break all your records.

A quick exchange in the rain, as the Wolves team up to take down their 26.2 mile opponent.

A part of the bright future of Coupeville athletics.

Cole White is swallowed up by the rain-soaked undergrowth.

“You old guys are never going to catch me!”

Soaked, tired, but triumphant.

The future is a bright one.

Entering year two of the rebirth of cross country at Coupeville schools, middle school coach Elizabeth Bitting had not one, but two, marathon relay teams take part in Saturday’s Race the Reserve.

Wolves Hayden Harry, Andrew Williams, Cole White, Hank Milnes, Ayden Wyman, George Spear, Jack Porter, Aiden O’Neill, Johnny Porter, Chase Anderson, and Tate Wyman teamed up to tear across the prairie, piling up 26.2 miles per team.

Dodging rain drops as they ran, the young Coupeville harriers offered proof the future of Cow Town athletics is a bright one.

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Coupeville 8th grader Mitchell Hall notched eight points Thursday at Sultan. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Wolf 7th grade coach Greg White and his sharp-shooting point guard (and son) Cole watch a recent high school game.

Four games, four very different results.

The Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads trekked to the wilds of Sultan Thursday, and while the Wolves lost all four contests, the scores differed wildly.

 

8th grade varsity:

CMS came within a basket or two of sweeping the season series with their rivals, but fell just short.

Coupeville had strong first and third quarters, but cold shooting in the other two frames doomed it in a 28-26 nail-biter.

The loss drops the Wolves to 1-7 on the season.

“They got us, it sure is a stinger,” said CMS coach Dante Mitchell. “But I can’t be more proud of the guy’s heart and hustle they showed tonight.”

His squad torched the nets for 10 points in the first and third, but were held to two and four in the second and fourth.

Free throws also hurt the Wolves, as they connected on just 2-9 from the charity stripe.

Mitchell Hall and Alex Murdy paced Coupeville with eight points apiece, while Ty Hamilton tossed in four.

Alex Wasik, Kevin Partida and Dominic Coffman rounded out the Wolf scoring machine with a bucket each, with Levi Pulliam, Jesse Wooten and Josh Upchurch also seeing floor time.

 

7th grade varsity:

The roughest part of the afternoon, as Coupeville inadvertently played the role of the log being force-fed into the chipper.

Facing a brutally-good Turk team, the Wolves, now 2-6, suffered through their coldest offensive performance of the season, falling 47-7.

While his team fought until the end, CMS coach Greg White could see this loss coming.

“Sultan has the best 7th grade team I’ve seen,” he said. “They’ve got some great athletes.”

The Turks blew out to a 17-3 lead after one quarter, stretched the margin to 34-3 by halftime, then coasted home on fumes in the second half.

Cole White, Logan Downes and Mikey Robinett each scored two, while Nick Guay arced a free-throw through the net to complete the limited offensive fireworks for the Wolves.

Ryan Blouin, William Davidson and Zane Oldenstadt rounded out the CMS roster.

 

7th/8th JV:

A joint team, with three eighth-graders (Pulliam, Wooten and Upchurch) joining the younger crew, played twice, facing off with separate Sultan squads.

CMS doesn’t have enough 8th grade players to form different JV teams this season.

Both final scores were lost to the winds, as Sultan’s books went missing, but we know for a fact Coupeville scored 12 points across the pair of two-quarter games, and they were both Wolf losses.

Robinett had the hottest hand for the Wolves, knocking down a team-high six, while Pulliam netted four and Chris Villarreal added a bucket.

Quinten Pilgrim, Timothy Nitta, Andrew Williams, Alex Clark and Justin Wilkinson all saw floor time as well.

 

Next up:

Coupeville wraps its 10-game season with a pair of contests on the Island, traveling to Langley Dec. 11, then hosting Granite Falls Dec. 13.

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Ryan Blouin was one of five Coupeville Middle School varsity 7th graders to score Tuesday against Lakewood. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Only have to play them once this season, so that’s nice.

Returning from a 12-day break the Coupeville Middle School boys basketball squads ran into a buzz-saw Tuesday while facing off with much-bigger Lakewood.

Three losses in as many games against a middle school which supports a large 2A high school was rough, but educational.

 

7th grade varsity:

There were two large bright spots in a 44-24 loss.

First, Logan Downes continued to scorch the net, popping for a team-high 14 points.

And secondly, and maybe more importantly, the Wolves showed grit, rebounding from a rough first half to dominate play in the third quarter.

While a 12-3 run in which four CMS players scored wasn’t enough to fully erase a 22-point deficit, it showed Coupeville won’t stop fighting.

Zane Oldenstadt added four points to back Downes, who is averaging 14.2 a night, while Ryan Blouin, Cole White and Nick Guay added a bucket apiece.

William Davidson, Mikey Robinett and Quinten Pilgrim also saw floor time for the Wolves, who sit at 2-3 at the halfway point of the season.

 

8th grade varsity:

A polished Lakewood squad rumbled to a one-sided 59-19 win, dropping Coupeville to 1-4 on the season.

Dominic Coffman rampaged for a team-high five points for the Wolves, while Mitchell Hall (4), Alex Wasik (3), Kevin Partida (3), Ty Hamilton (2) and Levi Pulliam (2) all put their names in the scoring column.

Jesse Wooten and Josh Upchurch rounded out the CMS players to hit the court.

 

7th grade JV:

A rough first quarter in which they were outscored 15-2 turned into an 18-5 loss for Coupeville in the two-quarter game.

Robinett paced the Wolves with three points, while Timothy Nitta knocked down a bucket in support.

Pilgrim, Andrew Williams, Chris Villarreal, Alex Clark and Justin Wilkinson rounded out the CMS roster on the afternoon.

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William Davidson was a force on defense Monday as the Coupeville Middle School 7th grade basketball squad routed King’s. (Photo courtesy Charlotte Young)

Get hit? Hit back harder.

It’s a philosophy which worked extremely well for the Coupeville Middle School 7th grade boys basketball squad Monday, as the Wolves weathered the best visiting King’s could throw its way, then dropped a devastating hay-maker in return.

Turning a tie game into a blowout, the CMS young guns romped to a season-opening win, kicking off a new season of hoops action in grand style.

While an undermanned 8th grade Wolf squad couldn’t keep the good times rolling, Coupeville will take the split and move on, ready to battle through a 10-game season.

 

7th grade goes bonkers:

It’s not too often you can go scoreless as a team from the final minute of the first quarter to the opening moments of the third, and win. Much less be on the positive end of a blowout.

And yet that’s just what the young Wolves did as they turned a 10-10 stalemate into a 28-13 victory romp.

The explosion, when it came, was brutally efficient, with the run ‘n gun twins, Logan Downes and Cole White, combining to drop 15 points in a game-deciding 18-0 surge.

For one second, King’s looked good. But it was a very short second.

The Knights point guard used a roll to the rim to bank home a runner on the first possession of the third quarter, capping a comeback from an early 7-0 deficit.

Knotting the game at 10, the bucket stretched Coupeville’s scoreless streak to nine-plus minutes, a time when decent CMS shots found a million ways to refuse to go down.

It would have been easy for the fairly-green Wolves to break under pressure, but early signs point to this bunch being a resilient group.

Without blinking, Downes hauled in a pass, flicked a trey through the bottom of the net, then immediately turned and sprinted back down court.

That shot, and Coupeville’s dynamic defense over the remainder of the third quarter, caused King’s to fracture.

With White, Downes, Ryan Blouin and Nick Guay relentlessly harassing the Knight ball-handlers, turnovers began to happen at a rapid rate.

When the ball did hit the rim, Zane Oldenstadt, William Davidson and Mike Robinett cleaned the glass ferociously, kick-starting Wolf fast-breaks. And once the points started falling, they arrived in a tsunami.

White knifed through a pair of defenders to slap home a layup off of a steal, then Downes pulled off almost a mirror image play.

Not content to stop with two-point buckets, the duo hit back-to-back three-balls, with White torching the net from the left side, before Downes rained down sweet pain from the far right corner.

After scoring the opening bucket of the third, King’s went scoreless for 10+ minutes.

Facing a withering Wolf D, the Knights didn’t put points on the board again until there were less than three minutes left in the game.

By that point, Oldenstadt had muscled his way in for a bucket in the paint to kick off the fourth quarter, stretching the lead all the way out to 28-10.

The frantic finish matched Coupeville’s sizzling start, when the Wolves rode a pair of buckets from Blouin and a long three-pointer from Downes — set-up by a Guay steal — out to a 7-0 lead.

Davidson added a free throw, after spending much of the first quarter diving on the floor in pursuit of loose balls, then Downes slapped home a breakaway layup to stake the Wolves to a 10-5 lead at the first break

The second quarter was surprisingly low-scoring, with a King’s three ball at the 1:47 mark the only change to the scoreboard.

In the end, it didn’t matter, as Coupeville’s explosive offense and barbed defense proved too much for the Knights.

“The defensive effort and rebounding were impressive from the whole team,” CMS coach Greg White said. “There was a lot of promising play from our boys and great support from the fans.”

Downes paced the Wolves, and outscored King’s by himself, with a game-high 15.

White banked home five, Blouin knocked down four, Oldenstadt banged inside for three and Davidson’s free throw put the final exclamation point on the scoring chart.

Robinett and Guay were joined by Quinten Pilgrim and Timothy Nitta in providing able support for Greg White and assistant coaches Michael Davidson and Arik Garthwaite.

 

8th grade learns under fire:

King’s older squad, while not equal to some of the juggernauts the private school has brought to town in the past, was still explosive enough to run away with a 50-20 win.

Mixing strong work on the boards with a dagger from three-point land, the Knights scored the first 13 points of the game, putting the Wolves on their heel.

Coupeville finally got on the board when Alex Murdy slashed the back-pedaling defense for a running layup, but that was all he and his team could eke out in a rough first quarter.

Trailing 19-2 headed into the second, the Wolves stayed much closer after they found their offensive rhythm.

Murdy banked home a team-high 11 points, adding three in the second and another six in the third.

The prettiest play from the nephew of former Wolf scoring ace Allen Black arrived early in the second quarter, when Murdy pump-faked a defender out of his high tops, then spun to the hoop for a swooping lay-in.

Dominic Coffman added five points to the CMS cause, including dropping a long three-ball from a step or two outside the parking lot, while Ty Hamilton tickled the twines for a pair of buckets to round out the scoring.

Levi Pulliam, Kevin Partida, Josh Upchurch, Alex Wasik, Jesse Wooten and James Hall also saw floor time for Wolf coach Dante Mitchell and assistants Mikayla Elfrank and DeAndre Mitchell.

 

Support crew soars:

Opening nights are sometimes rough, but Coupeville’s trio on the scorer’s table — score-book sage Nicole Laxton, clock operator Ema Smith and Head of Security Ashley Menges — were flawless in the spotlight.

Well, 99% flawless.

There was one preening lil’ punk of a King’s 8th grader who needed someone to reach over and slap the top-knot off of his frequently-annoying head.

But, alas, today’s high schoolers continually prove themselves to be more polite than the ones I grew up with, so, in 2018, not all of my day-dreams get to come true…

On the other hand, I did get free potato chips from the young children of Allen and Mandi (Murdy) Black and free chocolate from Charlotte Young, so I had that going for me, which was nice.

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