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Coupeville freshman Alana Mihill was a revelation this fall, embracing cross country and making an immediate impact. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS coach Natasha Bamberger honors senior captain Danny Conlisk, who, after two years of training and traveling with South Whidbey, got to lead his own team. (Photos courtesy Bamberger)

Wolf runners, and their support crew, celebrate “Crossgiving” at Sunday’s awards banquet.

The coach who revived a program she once led as a runner has a special gift to remember this season. (Photo courtesy Helene Lhamon)

Revived, reborn and earning respect.

Ending a two-decade-plus exile, cross country returned to Coupeville High School this fall, and it was a smashing success.

Starting the program virtually from scratch — two returning runners, Danny Conlisk and Sam Wynn, had trained and traveled with South Whidbey last year — CHS coach Natasha Bamberger hit the ground running.

She pulled together an eight-athlete roster, fielding a full boys team while launching the very-promising harrier careers of Catherine Lhamon and Alana Mihill.

The trail runners made huge strides while training with Bamberger, who won a 1985 state title in cross country and four more in track back when she was the one wearing a CHS uniform.

Tack on a huge turnout at the middle school level for CMS coach Elizabeth Bitting, and the future of the cross country program couldn’t be brighter.

But Sunday night was about hailing the trailblazers who brought cross country back inside Coupeville schools.

In future years, as the program grows, other Wolves may join Bamberger and 2010 state champ Tyler King at the top of the podium.

When they do, they will be rightfully hailed.

But for now, and forever, the two girls, six boys, one ecstatic coach and their all-star support crew, the ones who stepped up in 2018, will live large.

It’s a feeling Bamberger captured in her awards banquet wrap-up:

“Happy Crossgiving!!”

This is how the Coupeville High School cross country family ends its first XC season – at Fort Casey with submarines, laughs and tons of kindness.

Captain Award:
Danny Conlisk

Varsity letters:

Catherine Lhamon
Alana Mihill
Danny Conlisk
Sam Wynn

Senior Awards:

Danny Conlisk
Uriah Kastner
Kyle Burnett

Runner Discovered:
Uriah Kastner

Fighter Award:
Kyle Burnett

Natural:
Sam Wynn

In the Zone:
Chris Ruck

Toughest Competitor:
Catherine Lhamon

Workhorse Award:
Alana Mihill

Alana’s first letter; she pushed the team from the first day of the summer preseason.

She made every practice and when team felt tired she’d be right out front pushing the boys!!

Best Attitude Award:
TJ Rickner

TJ has the best attitude you could ask for in a runner. Finishes the race saying coach that was so fun! Smiling ear to ear.

I want to bottle that enthusiasm!

It was a great night! They sewed coach a quilt!

Special thanks to Dawnelle, Glenda and Ken. Fitting he was at the head of the table, submarines and all!

Huge thank you Robyn Myers, SPU-Fort Casey, and for the amazing support of the Coupeville Boosters. I’m overwhelmed.

Thank you David for your support of the team. Anything I can do for you please ask.

You have done so much for this community.

Do your articles motivate? Maybe we better put you in the hot seat in the next super motivator contest!!

We could graph athlete performance and “Coupeville Sports” coverage. Haha!!

Parting words … “Summer practice starts weekdays 10 AM after the last day of school, Monday-Friday.

(Big focus eye contact and huge smile holding my breath…)

I look forward to seeing you ALL there!

Feels great to be home!

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With Catherine Lhamon out with an injury, freshman Alana Mihill was a lone Wolf in the girls cross country race Saturday at bi-districts. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Coupeville boys (l to r) TJ Rickner, Kyle Burnett, Uriah Kastner, Sam Wynn and Danny Conlisk wait at the starting line.

Burnett slashes down the trail.

It’s high noon in the photo pit, as Dawnelle Conlisk comes out firing.

CHS coach Natasha Bamberger, a state champ in ’85, watches proudly as a new generation reignites the Wolf cross country program.

Conlisk, who trained and traveled with South Whidbey in recent years, ends his senior season as captain of a complete Coupeville team.

The storied past, vibrant present and bright future of Coupeville cross country, all wrapped into one.

The red and black is back (on the trail).

Coupeville’s reborn cross country program, resurrected after a 20+ year absence, went eight runners strong in its first go-around.

Six of those Wolves were on the line Saturday in South Whidbey for the bi-district meet, and wanderin’ camera clicker John Fisken was there to document things.

To see everything he shot, pop over to:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Cross-Country-2018-2019/XC-2018-10-27-District-1-meet/

And when you do, remember, any purchases help fund scholarships for CHS senior student/athletes. Circle of life and all.

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A leg injury prevented sophomore Catherine Lhamon, Coupeville’s top-ranked cross country runner, from racing Saturday at districts. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The season ended a hair too soon, but there was nothing but positive feelings at the end.

While the Coupeville High School cross country team failed to advance any runners to the state meet, with senior Danny Conlisk narrowly missing out on a second-straight trip, the Wolves finished the bi-district meet Saturday in South Whidbey heads held high.

For one thing, this was the first time in 20+ years a Coupeville harrier TEAM was even in competition.

After years of wandering the desert, with the occasional runner here and there training and traveling with other schools, CHS revived its cross country program this fall.

Led by coach Natasha Bamberger, a state XC champ in 1985 for the Wolves, Coupeville went eight strong, with six boys and two girls.

One of those female runners, sophomore Catherine Lhamon, was almost a sure shot to make it to state, based on her previous times.

Unfortunately, a leg injury late in the season prevented her from running Saturday.

Conlisk, who went to state in 2017 while training and traveling with South Whidbey, crushed his previous-best time on the SWHS course by 47 seconds, but just missed making the cut.

He needed to finish in the top 35, but hit the tape in 39th.

While she was hoping to get runners through to Pasco, and was planning to travel as a united team if they did, Bamberger exited bi-districts wearing a huge smile.

“They put it all out there today against a very strong district,” she said. “I am very proud of their effort today and for their first season as a cross country team for Coupeville.

“The team told me they don’t want the season to end,” Bamberger said. “I know what I can improve on as coach and we are all looking forward to off-season cross-training and building a good base for their track and the 2019 cross country seasons.”

Getting the chance to revive a program she once starred for was huge for Bamberger.

“I don’t know how to express how much I loved coaching this team,” she said. “Starting from scratch, this team has succeeded in building a culture around the love of running, working hard, pushing their limits.

“They are an exceptionally inclusive group that has fun while they are at it, which is not easy to do in a tough sport like cross country,” Bamberger added. “The team made some great friends out there on this journey, from coaches and other teams like South Whidbey all embracing and encouraging our new runners all the way.

“I can’t wait to see where my three seniors go next and how this young returning team builds on this year.”

 

Complete Saturday results (5,000-meter course):

 

GIRLS:

Alana Mihill (74th) 24:36.15

 

BOYS:

Danny Conlisk (39th) 18:11.02
Sam Wynn (81st) 20:28.09
TJ Rickner (93rd) 21:28.48
Uriah Kastner (98th) 23:10.12
Kyle Burnett (100th) 24:46.20

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Freshman Alana Mihill finds her moment of Zen Saturday before the start of the North Sound Conference cross country championships at Lakewood. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

CHS boys (l to r) TJ Rickner, Chris Ruck, Sam Wynn, Uriah Kastner, Danny Conlisk and Kyle Burnett.

Surrounded by a pack of King’s runners, Mihill makes a stand as a lone Wolf.

South Whidbey’s girls finished 2nd on the day.

The Wolf boys explode off the starting line.

The postseason sprint begins.

Coupeville High School cross country began (hopefully) a three-week run through championship events with an appearance Saturday at the North Sound Conference meet at Lakewood High School.

Still to come are districts Oct. 27 at South Whidbey, and (possibly) state Nov. 3 in Pasco.

Saturday’s meet, which brought all three Island teams to the same location – Oak Harbor competed in the Wesco championships, while South Whidbey joined Coupeville in the NSC throw-down – also drew in wanderin’ paparazzi John Fisken.

The photos above are courtesy him, and you can see (and buy) more at:

https://www.johnsphotos.net/Sports/Coupeville-Cross-Country-2018-2019/XC-2018-10-20-League-Meet/

And remember, purchases help fund scholarships for CHS student/athletes, so circle of life and all.

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Having survived a plunge down the Hill o’ Death, Danny Conlisk (bottom left) leads the pack Saturday at the North Sound Conference cross country championships. (Dawnelle Conlisk photos)

Freshman Alana Mihill smashes her PR and claims Coupeville’s best finish of the day.

Every event the Coupeville High School cross country team attends this season is a milestone.

After reviving a program which had been shuttered for 20+ years, the Wolf harriers are attacking each new challenge with glee.

Saturday afternoon, Coupeville, with seven of its eight runners in action, was at Lakewood High School, taking part in the first North Sound Conference cross country championships.

While King’s (girls) and South Whidbey (boys) claimed the team titles, the new-look Wolves made their own splash.

Freshman Alana Mihill, running solo with Catherine Lhamon resting a leg injury, was the top Wolf finisher, claiming 16th while nailing a PR on the 5,000 meter course.

Senior Danny Conlisk went out strongly, leading for the first lap before finishing 19th with a season-best time.

Coupeville heads to the district meet Oct. 27, and it will be a short jaunt, with the race held at South Whidbey High School.

The top 36 boys and 42 girls at districts qualify for the state meet Nov. 3 in Pasco.

If they hit their times at that race, Lhamon, Mihill and Conlisk are on target to qualify for the big dance, while Sam Wynn is close to joining them.

“It would be a dream to take these four runners to state our first season as a team, and with Catherine and Alana running cross country for the first time,” said CHS coach Natasha Bamberger, herself a harrier state champ for the Wolves in 1985.

“They have trained so hard and notably come together as a very close team,” she added. “To go to state would cap off an amazing first season for Coupeville and speaks for great things to come. What a gift this season has been!”

 

Complete Saturday results:

 

GIRLS:

Alana Mihill (16th) 23:33 *PR*

 

BOYS:

Danny Conlisk (19th) 18:08.4
Sam Wynn (33rd) 19:16.4 *PR*
TJ Rickner (55th) 21:13.5 *PR*
Uriah Kastner (58th) 21:31.4 *PR*
Kyle Burnett (66th) 22:42.1 *PR*
Chris Ruck (70th) 23:53.9

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