Posts Tagged ‘Fort Casey State Park’

Ivy Rudat zips through the woods. (Jackie Saia photos)

They are Wolves, hear them roar.

The Coupeville Middle School girls cross country team defended its home turf Wednesday, winning a seven-team meet at Fort Casey State Park.

Elizabeth Bitting’s pack of gung-ho runners held off traditional powerhouses King’s and South Whidbey to claim the team title, placing three harriers in the top 10.

The Wolf boys finished third, with King’s on top of the leaderboard.

Granite Falls, Northshore Christian Academy, Sultan, and Lakewood rounded out the field, with 161 runners hitting the finish line during the 1.5-mile race.

Wednesday’s rumble in the woods was a preview of the season finale, as the same seven teams travel to South Whidbey Tuesday, Oct. 18 for the Cascade League Championships.

Coupeville’s runners wore pink wrist bands to show their support for the fight against breast cancer, and the meet was the first home one for the revived Wolf cross country program.

With Athletic Director Willie Smith off on an annual hunting trip, Bitting got huge help from Aimee Bishop, Barbi Ford, and Bob Martin, among many, and the event was a major success.

“It finally happened!” Bitting said. “The afternoon was beautiful! The sun was out, there was a slight breeze, and the crowds came out to cheer on all runners.

“Each and every one of our runners set a PR for our home course,” she added.

“I am so proud of each and every one of them!!!”


Kenneth Jacobsen was the fastest Wolf boy Wednesday afternoon.


Wednesday’s results:



Lydia Price (6th) 10:19
Olivia Hall (8th) 10:40
Mikayla Wagner (9th) 10:41
Laken Simpson (12th) 11:16
Tirsit Cannon (14th) 11:31
Ivy Rudat (19th) 11:47
Marin Winger (22nd) 11:55
Allie Powers (25th) 12:27
Sage Stavros (26th) 12:33
Devon Wyman (49th) 14:06
Hailey Goldman (51st) 14:13
Arianna Cunningham (53rd) 14:35
Mary Western (54th) 14:37
Maci Wofford (60th) 15:55
Camilla Wolfe (64th) 17:06
Elizabeth Marshall (65th) 17:08
Emma McFadden (67th) 17:28
Alexandra Lo (73rd) 20:42
Savannah Niewald (74th) 20:56



Kenneth Jacobsen (11th) 9:38
Beckett Green (14th) 9:49
Axel Marshall (20th) 10:06
Roger Merino-Martinez (21st) 10:26
Nathan Niewald (24th) 10:36
Cyrus Sparacio (32nd) 10:57
Max Ohme (38th) 11:17
Johnathan Jacobsen (62nd) 13:07
Dylan Robinett (64th) 13:14
Isaiah Allen (70th) 13:45
Zach Blitch (73rd) 13:53
Andre Volanos-Gerber (78th) 15:30
Avery Eelkema (80th) 15:51

Zach Blitch guns for the finish line.

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Cole White, out for a stroll. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Run for your closeup.

The Coupeville High School cross country squad hosted, and competed at, the Northwest 2B/1B League Championships Thursday at Fort Casey State Park, attracting fans of all sizes and shapes.

Wanderin’ photographer John Fisken and his cameras were among the onlookers, and the pics seen above and below are courtesy him.

To see everything he snapped, and possibly buy some glossies for Aunt Bertha in Poughkeepsie, pop over to:



Bob Martin keeps things official.

“That way! Go that way!!”

Helen Strelow runs to a league title.

A passing ferry gives chase.

A splash of color, to brighten up the day.

Claire Mayne is in the zone.

The Wolves went 17 runners deep at the league championship meet.

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Coupeville freshman Edie Bittner made her high school cross country debut Friday afternoon. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Closer and closer.

Mount Vernon Christian’s boys cross country team is still the gold standard in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

But Coupeville is coming up fast in the rearview mirror.

Three days after coming within 11 points of catching the Hurricanes in the team standings at a multi-team meet, the Wolves shaved their deficit down to nine while running Friday at Fort Casey State Park.

MVC had the first three runners across the line, led by Alexander Hoksbergen, but Coupeville slotted in at 4-5-6-7, then added 10-11-12 to stay close.

The final margin of victory for the Hurricanes this time around was 23-32, after winning 25-36 at Orcas three days earlier.

Concrete didn’t have enough runners to score as a team in the boys race, while MVC and Coupeville each had four female runners, not enough to form full teams.

Hurricane junior Maddy Nielsen outdueled Wolf Helen Strelow to claim the girls individual title.

Coupeville gets right back into action Saturday, with a trip to Shoreline for the King’s Roller Coaster Trail Run.


Complete Friday results (3.1 miles):



Helen Strelow (2nd) 26:30
Bryley Gilbert (4th) 29:11
Erica McGrath (7th) 33:31
Edie Bittner (8th) 43:36



Mitchell Hall (4th) 19:52
Cole White (5th) 20:32
Carson Field (6th) 20:43
Landon Roberts (7th) 20:43.50
Thomas Strelow (10th) 21:53
Hank Milnes (11th) 22:01
Tate Wyman (12th) 22:53
Reiley Araceley (15th) 23:52
Alex Clark (21st) 29:13

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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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Catherine Lhamon claimed the title Thursday as Coupeville High School cross country hosted its first home meet in 30+ years. (Helene Lhamon photo)

Young and ready to run.

Featuring its deepest lineup in the three years since the program was restarted, the Coupeville High School cross country squad kicked off a new season Thursday, running in the sun at Fort Casey State Park.

Wolf coach Elizabeth Bitting sent 13 harriers to the line, with Catherine Lhamon, her lone senior, winning the girls race by almost a minute-and-a-half.

The speedy veteran covered the 3.2-mile course, which was making its debut as the new home for CHS cross country, in 25 minutes, 21 seconds.

While the Wolves returned to trail-running in 2018 after a long absence, Thursday was the first time the school has hosted a cross country meet in three-plus decades.

Afterwards, Bitting was floating on air.

“We wanted it to be perfect … IT WAS!!!!,” she said. “It truly takes a village!! And Coupeville is full of wonderful, caring and helpful people who want to be part of that village!

“Many hands and minds make a lot of work that much easier!”

Bitting praised her helpers, giving props to folks like Nicole Strelow, Amber Wyman, Holley Steller, Wendy Wasik, Helene Lhamon, Jennifer McGrath, Laurie and Randy King and CHS Athletic Director Willie Smith.

Also earning kudos was the course itself, especially with spectacular views of the water and wildlife set off by a genuinely sunny early-spring day.

Cristina McGrath (left) and Helen Strelow outrace a ferry. (Pete Milnes photo)

“The course had high praise from all, the scenery was breathtaking and EVERYBODY PR’d,” Bitting said. “The only thing that could have topped the day off was an appearance of a whale out in the waters … it happened, it actually happened!!!!

“The boys went first and it was such an awesome sight to see them running down the grass field of Fort Casey heading towards the light house,” she added.

“The course is very spectator-friendly and we didn’t have to go far to see the runners moving from point to point.

“All the Wolves pushed themselves and gave it their all. What a great day!”

The CHS girls attack as a pack. (Pete Milnes photo)

While Coupeville’s last home cross country meet came long before any current CHS runner was born, it’s also been a relatively long stretch of time since any of these Wolves got to compete against other schools.

Lhamon capped her junior season by competing at the state meet in Eastern Washington in November, 2019, then … nada.

After the world went wack-a-doodle, prep sports have largely been sidelined during the Age of Coronavirus, with just some off-season workouts finally being allowed.

But now cross country is back, and the hope is to have one season almost on top of another.

With the pandemic pushing the start of fall sports back almost eight months, Coupeville will run a limited four-meet season over the next several weeks.

Then, hopefully, everyone will return to running in the fall with the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

While the Wolves won’t travel to any huge races during this compressed season, they do get to host two of their four meets.

The other home event, set for May 6, is the season-ending Northwest 2B/1B League Championships.

Josh Guay (left) and Alex Bowder run in the sun. (Pete Milnes photo)

Bitting, who is training a strong group of runners at both the middle and high school levels, continues to expand on what former Wolf coaches Natasha Bamberger and Luke Samford helped build.

It’s a CHS roster made up of primarily freshmen and sophomores, with a big batch of CMS 7th and 8th graders ready to join the crusade soon.

Thursday’s meet brought Mount Vernon Christian and Orcas Island to Whidbey, with MVC, a traditional running power, claiming the boys team title.

The Hurricanes swept the top three individual spots, led by Devin Van Zanten, who hit the tape in a speedy 19:41.

Coupeville put sophomore sensation Mitchell Hall and fab frosh Hank Milnes into fourth and fifth, respectively, helping it hold off Orcas for second-place in the team battle.

Freshman Hank Milnes is a star on the rise. (Pete Milnes photo)

On the girls side, the Wolves had four of the top six finishers, but none of the three squads had the necessary five runners to officially claim a team crown.

As day faded into night, Bitting finally found a moment to unwind and deal with a possible sunburn … well, after first being harassed by the media.

You could feel the power of her smile, though, even through the internet.

“After today’s race I am feeling very accomplished for the sport of cross country!,” Bitting said. “I feel blessed to have been a part of this.”


Complete Thursday results:



Catherine Lhamon (1st) 25:21
Helen Strelow (3rd) 28:15
Cristina McGrath (4th) 28:41
Nozomi Hagihara (6th) 33:05



Mitchell Hall (4th) 20:48
Hank Milnes (5th) 23:17
Reiley Araceley (10th) 23:39
Alex Wasik (15th) 24:56
Tate Wyman (17th) 26:52
Grant Steller (18th) 26:53
Josh Guay (20th) 27:35
Alex Bowder (21st) 27:40
Alex Merino-Martinez (22nd) 28:38

Mitchell Hall enjoys his afternoon. (Pete Milnes photo)

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