Posts Tagged ‘Hunter Smith’

Maggie Crimmins moves in for the kill. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Every year is made up of moments.

When we look back at 2018, there’s an endless flow of games – some memorable, some not so much – but, long after most of the scores have been forgotten, the moments remain.

Good, bad, heartbreaking or cheer-inducing, they are what we remember.

As we prepare to slide into 2019, here’s a somewhat haphazard look at what caught my eye over the last couple days as I waded through 818 articles I wrote this year.



**The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association denies Coupeville’s bid to move down from 1A to 2B. Despite losing 10% of its student body since the last classification count, when it was already in the 1A basement, CHS is told to stay the course.

**Coupeville boys basketball stuns first-place Klahowya 59-54 on Senior Night, providing a perfect cap to Brad Sherman’s first season as coach.

Hunter Smith goes off for a career-high 35, but it’s Kyle Rockwell who provides the night’s biggest bucket, yanking an offensive rebound free from a rival and immediately powering back up for the game-clinching layup.

**Smith closes his senior season with 382 points. He’s the first Wolf boy to put up back-to-back 300+ point seasons in more than a decade, and with 847 career points, finishes #12 in program history.

**The CMS 7th grade girls hoops squad almost throws a shutout. The Wolves hold Blue Heron scoreless for 30 minutes and 36 seconds in a 32-minute contest, winning 48-2.

**Coupeville loses a beloved coach, as soccer guru Gary Manker passes away at 49. Manker worked extensively with Wolf goaltenders, pulling duty with both girls and boys teams.

**Wolf sophomore Mason Grove scores 337 points in 19 basketball games, narrowly missing Allen Black’s unofficial JV record of 347, set in 2002-2003.

Grove, who tops 30 three times, loses out on the JV mark because his success prompts varsity coaches to call him up, where he tosses in another 51 points for the first unit.

**Down 12 in the fourth quarter, the CMS boys varsity basketball squad roars back to beat Forks on a last-second shot from Xavier Murdy.

With Ja’Kenya Hoskins wiping out the back row, Audrianna Shaw has room to rumble.

**The CMS 8th grade girls hoops team also beats Forks later in the winter, but on a stranger note, when the Spartans coach grabs the ball and goes home with 14 seconds to play, forfeiting the game while screaming every step of the way.

**Dominic Coffman, then a 7th grader, brings a smile to my face as he pulls off a one-man tribute to the Bad Boys era of basketball.

As I wrote then:

Near the end of the third quarter, Coffman stopped a Forks breakaway by delivering a well-timed karate chop to the head of the guy about to drop a layup. Instead, the ball went one way, the rival went the other, and Wolf fans erupted.

Going one better, Coffman stopped a second fast break by leveling a Spartan like a semi-truck hitting a grocery cart full of melons left in the middle of the interstate.

On that one, the ref shook his head, tried to hide his smile and softly intoned, “foul, #1, foot to … the mouth.”

**Jon Atkins steps down as CHS football coach after two seasons at the helm. He’s the first Wolf gridiron coach to beat South Whidbey in back-to-back seasons since the schools started playing for The Bucket.

Legends cram the stands as CHS celebrates 101 years of boys basketball.

**The biggest party of the year, as CHS throws a shindig to celebrate 101 years of boys basketball. The night reunites the 1969-1970 team, which still holds every scoring record in the book, while players from eight decades show up.

After showing great respect to their predecessors, going down a line of legends to shake hands, the modern-day Wolves throttle Chimacum.

The night’s biggest moment comes when Bob Barker, revered coach, teacher and administrator, steps through the gym door, clad in the jacket he wore while coaching that 69-70 team.

I never saw Elvis enter an arena, but Jan. 19, 2018, I came as close as I ever will.



**CHS debuts its new stadium, with a cake designed by Emily Stevens, and boys soccer blasting 2A Olympic 4-1 on Mickey Clark Field.

With a stellar senior year, followed by a state softball title with her travel ball squad, 2018 kept Katrina McGranahan smiling.

**Coupeville softball wins five games against pitchers with NCAA D-1 scholarships. Wolves throttle South Whidbey’s Mackenzee Collins twice, and beat Klahowya’s Amber Bumbalough three times.

**Wolf JV softball puts up a 17-batter, 13-run, eight-hit first inning against 2A Sequim, an assault in which the first 11 Wolves reach base safely.

**Mallory Kortuem shatters CHS girls pole vault record by six inches.

**Coupeville closes final season in the Olympic League by taking titles in softball, baseball, girls tennis, boys track and girls track. Boys soccer only crown to evade Wolves, but while booters can’t catch Klahowya, they do post best-ever finish.

**Girls tennis bounces Chimacum in a winner-take-all match on final day of season, becoming only Wolf program to win titles all four seasons Coupeville was in Olympic League.

Ryan Labrador is all about the nutrition.

**Boys track wins district title, first time Wolves have achieved feat since 2006.

**Party on the pitch, as boys soccer shocks five-time state champ Bellevue Christian 3-0, garnering program’s first playoff win in six seasons.

**Kyle Rockwell makes the play of the year, throwing out a runner at the plate to seal a 1-0 home baseball win over Chimacum.

Rockwell launches a missile from right field which drops flawlessly into Gavin Knoblich’s mitt for the final out.

The victory moves CHS into a first-place tie, and it wins the title later in the week with another shutout of the Cowboys.

**Sophomore Derek Leyva, in his first season at CHS, breaks cousin Abraham’s single-season boys soccer scoring record, finishing with 24 goals.

**Tennis aces Payton Aparicio and Sage Renninger cap four-year run as Coupeville’s top doubles duo, claiming 4th at state after winning three of four matches.

**CHS baseball thumps Charles Wright Academy 10-0 in playoff opener, snapping a five-game losing streak in postseason games.

CHS track coach Randy King celebrates a season of triumph.

**Coupeville claims 14 medals at state track meet, spread among nine athletes, while Wolf boys finish 5th in team standings, best in a decade.

Lindsey Roberts (100 hurdles), Danny Conlisk (400) and Jacob Smith (100, 200) all claim 2nd place medals.

**Jacob Smith adds a 5th in the 4 x 400 and 7th in 4 x 100, joining Jon Chittim as the only Wolves to win four competitive medals at the same state track meet.

**After four years, Wolves leave Olympic League.

Despite being smallest of four schools in the conference, CHS snags more varsity wins (185) than Klahowya, Port Townsend or Chimacum.

Coupeville only school to post 40+ wins every year, and only one to twice claim 50+ wins.

**Payton Aparicio and Hunter Smith named CHS Athletes of the Year. It’s Smith’s second-straight win.



**Dr. Jim Shank departs after five action-packed years as Coupeville Schools Superintendent. My pick as the best to ever hold the job, he and his family are now making Burley, Idaho a better place.

**Fresh off graduation, Katrina McGranahan wins a state title while playing select softball with the Seattle Spice.

**Marcus Carr is hired as Coupeville’s new head football coach, becoming the program’s fifth head coach in nine seasons.

Madison Ford, the future of Wolf sports.

**The ancient scrolls read: “A child, born from two Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famers, will rise to become the greatest Wolf athlete of all time.” You heard it here first – Madison Ford, daughter of Jordan Ford and Mikayla Elfrank, is the Chosen One.



**Cross country returns to CHS and CMS for first time in two decades.

While individual runners trained and traveled with other schools in recent years, Wolves hire Natasha Bamberger and Elizabeth Bitting to restart programs inside Coupeville schools, and both teams have strong turnout.

**The North Sound Conference, which reunites Coupeville with former rivals from the Cascade Conference, including neighbor South Whidbey, begins play.

**CHS boys tennis beats South Whidbey for first time in 14 years, and do it twice. Sparked by the sweep, Wolves claim 4th in their debut in the eight-team, private school-dominated Emerald City League, toughest tennis conference in the state.

**JV volleyball player Izzy Wells rips off 16 consecutive points on serve against Port Townsend.

Emma Smith (left) and Ashley Menges closed stellar volleyball careers.

**Emma Smith, on the day she turns 18, writes a fairy tale, playing out of her mind all match, before delivering the night’s final point as Coupeville volleyball wins an epic five-setter on South Whidbey’s court.

As I wrote at the time:

In the stands, Konni Smith, her voice strained by a night of screaming for her daughter, suddenly found one final holler.

Because, out there on the court, Emma Smith, twirling into the air, arms above her, fingertips quivering with anticipation, found the ball in mid-flight, stopped time, and flicked the biggest shot she’s nailed in a career full of nailing big shots.

The ball hit the ground, the Falcons whiffed, Konni and associates lost their minds and Emma’s cool as a cucumber younger sister, Savannah, almost looked up from her phone.


**CHS football, which had lost five-straight games to Port Townsend, being outscored 270-32, travels across the water and drills the RedHawks 28-18.

Sean Toomey-Stout (6) and Ben Smith wrap up a rival runner.

**Wolf football, with a new coaching staff and a new spirit rippling through the program, get off to a 3-1 start and make me write stuff like this:

It begins with a rumble, rapidly spreading from the bottom of his shoes to the top of his electric-shocked hair.

The rumble becomes a guttural howl, and then his body begins to shimmy and shake, his head flies backwards, his arms pumping, his fists shaking as they slam into his chest.

Emerging from the haze of a rain storm, Alex Turner is dancing and behind him, sprawled on the sodden turf, another vanquished foe lies in a heap.

Often the Coupeville High School senior is celebrating one of his own back-breaking tackles, but Friday night in La Conner, he also did the full-on freak-out when teammates like Andrew Martin and Matt Hilborn were dropping hay-makers.

Every time Turner’s hips went in over-drive, the mass of Wolf fans who traveled down the highway to watch Coupeville administer a 33-12 whuppin’ on their old-school rivals, went bonkers.

Ignoring the frequent bursts of rain, the gusts of wind, and the fragrant aroma of manure wafting in off of nearby fields, Turner’s classmates, his fellow Wolf athletes, parents, alumni and random passerby grooved along with him.

“Dude’s crazy … craaaaaaaazzzzzyyyy … and I like it man,” said one former CHS coach.

**Denny Zylstra, a legend as both a Coupeville athlete and coach, passes away at 78.

**New concession stand and permanent bathrooms open at Mickey Clark Field.

**Coupeville goes viral, as a video of Sean Toomey-Stout taking a kickoff to the house against King’s, covering 95 yards while a wayward deer operates as his lead blocker, goes all the way to ESPN and beyond.

Peytin Vondrak (left) and Ema Smith, reppin’ Coupeville all the way, every day.

**CHS volleyball pulls off one of the most stunning wins in school history during the district playoffs. Down two sets to one, two points from losing the fourth set and being eliminated, Wolves go on an incredible tear.

Winning in five sets, they KO Cedar Park Christian, avenging an earlier-season loss, while keeping their own postseason run alive.


and back to WINTER:

**CHS cheer returns to being a competition squad for first time since 2011. Wolves, led by new coach BreAnna Boon, claim two 2nd’s and a 3rd in first meets, while improving score each time out.

**Longtime Wolf tennis coach Ken Stange takes a nasty fall off a ladder, fractures vertebrae, undergoes surgery and emerges wearing a protective shell which makes him look like a bearded Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Good news is, doctors expect a full recovery.

**Basketball fever rages across the land, with senior Lindsey Roberts and freshman Hawthorne Wolfe the leading scorers at the winter break.

Roberts has passed 12 players in the first nine games, and sits at #24 on the girls career scoring chart, while Wolfe is on target to become only fifth CHS boy in 102 seasons to score 100+ points in his freshman season

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Thanks to a time machine, Kit Manzanares (left) returns, still in his prime, to clash with Wiley Hesselgrave. (Photos by Geoff Newton (left) and JohnsPhotos.net)

Who’s ready for some holiday angina?

There are no new basketball games until Jan. 4, so perfect time for some know-it-all in the bleachers to start ranking current and former players, and debating who would be better in their prime.

Sadly, I was too young to experience the glory days of Coupeville boys basketball in the ’70s, and I spent 1994-2009 marinating in video store life, thereby missing another pretty good run of hoops highlights.

What that leaves us is a showdown between two time periods when I was actively invested in following CHS basketball, game by game, player by player.

My first run, from Jan. 1990 through the end of the 93-94 hoops season, is my Whidbey News-Times days.

My second run covers the 2012-2013 season to today, and is my Coupeville Sports days.

With that in mind, my picks for 10-man teams (delivered in alphabetic order), plus a wild card for each squad.

And, of course, since we’re in the business of creating arguments, my prediction for who would win if both teams, in their primes, met on the hardwood.



Ben Biskovich – The Scottie Pippen of his generation, a star willing to do all the little things to make everyone around him better.

Ross Buckner – Would run through a wall for you, and tried, more than once.

Sean Dillon – Could get you buckets any time, any place, any way.

Frank Marti – Hard-nosed defender who could go off on offense at will.

Jason McFadyen – Cerebral floor leader who was one of the best pure shooters in program history.

Brad Haslam – The most imposing player I have seen in a CHS uniform, ever. A man, never a boy.

Kit Manzanares – Confounding and electrifying. Often came close to giving his coach a stroke, but could bring the heat like few others.

Gabe McMurray – A genuine superstar who could control a game like few other Wolves, before or after.

Brad Miller – Big, bad and bald (thanks to a shaved head) – a scary man to run into down in the paint.

Virgil Roehl – A rock, an absolute rock. Pulled the Wolves through a down period by putting them on his muscular shoulders.

Wild Card: Pete Petrov

Now, we know he became one of the most dynamic players in CHS hoops history – an explosive scorer and world-class physical specimen.

But, if we’re playing fair, he only saw the floor in a handful of varsity games during his freshman season in ’93-’94.

If I stay at the News-Times another year, Petrov is a slam dunk to make the team. But I didn’t, so he didn’t.



Anthony Bergeron – He blossomed from a quiet bystander to being his team’s leading scorer, and dunker, by his senior year.

Aaron Curtin – Sweet shooter, quality passer, hard worker. Baseball and tennis were his calling cards, but don’t underestimate his hoops skills.

Ben Etzell – An epic collector of bruises, gashes and black eyes, as he hurtled around the gym, refusing to believe he couldn’t catch up to every single loose ball and wayward rebound.

Jordan Ford – Blue collar warrior who got most of his points off of rebounds and hustle plays. Old school work ethic in a new school player.

Wiley Hesselgrave – Tough as they came; played like a bull careening through the streets of Pamplona, goring all the idiots who dared get in his way.

Risen Johnson – Electrifying barely begins to describe his floor style, where he was always one step away from disaster, one step away from nirvana.

Gavin O’Keefe – Injuries decimated huge chunks of his career, but when he was healthy, he was a gunner who hustled on every play.

Hunter Smith – A killer in every aspect, his game would work in any era. Made everyone around him better, every night.

Ethan Spark – One of the most dangerous shooters in program history, a guy who could knife you from any angle at any time.

Nick Streubel – Football big man who cleared a path of destruction in the paint while showing a deceptively soft touch on his shots.

Wild Card: Hawthorne Wolfe

A mere freshman, he leads Coupeville’s varsity in scoring, explodes with potential while redefining laid-back cool, and I could easily see him ending his career camped among the legends.

He also has yet to play 10 games of high school ball.

Come back in three years and we’ll have this conversation again.


Who wins:

OK, this is not played today. Instead, this is a mythical game, where, thanks to time travel, all players are in their high school primes and step on the court at 17 or 18 years old.


Old school beats the crud out of new school, and I mean that in two ways.

The ’90s guys were just far more physical, top to bottom, and the modern-day guys would have major trouble dealing with big, bad brutes like Brad Haslam, Brad Miller and Virgil Roehl.

Nick Streubel would not be easily moved, Jordan Ford is severely underrated for how effective he was in the paint, and Wiley Hesselgrave is as tough as any player, ever, but I saw the Brads play live.

They were scary dudes in a way no modern Wolf player approaches. When they walked on the court, rival players started wincing before tip-off.

Also, while Hunter Smith is the top scorer in this scenario – finishing 12th all-time among Wolf boys in career points — the older crew has far more genuine scoring threats.

Gabe McMurray was a beast, Jason McFadyen could torch you from any place on the floor and Roehl was a tower of power who dominated on the offensive glass.

The young guys have Hesselgrave, but he was more a grinder than a streak scorer, and Ethan Spark, while a great shooter, would be catching elbows to the chin all game from the ’90s guys.

I don’t think it would necessarily be a blowout, but if I’m betting a crisp fiver on the result, I know where my money goes.

It goes on the old school bruisers.

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Marlene Grasser was named as the best athlete in CHS history by her peers in a social media poll, and it wasn’t close. (Photo courtesy Grasser family)

There can only be one!

Or maybe three or four, if we’re being realistic.

Earlier this week, I put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, hailing all current and former Coupeville High School athletes with a simple, yet deeply-weighted, question.

Who is the best Wolf athlete you played with, and why?

Having dug myself out from under the deluge of responses, it’s become obvious there are strong feelings out there, and strong pockets of support for a couple of former Cow Town stars in particular.

Now remember, this was a randomly conducted quiz, and, if you weren’t on social media, you probably didn’t see it.

Modern-day athletes, and by that I mean, from the ’80s on, tended to draw the most support.

If we put more time and effort into this endeavor, and made sure the whole fan base of Wolf Nation was involved, I have no doubt we’d see more mentions of athletes from, say, the ’50s or the ’70s.

No one is claiming me asking a question on social media was going to give us a definitive answer. So, take it for what it was meant to be, a jumping-off point for debate and discussion.

In the end, 60 athletes, including a couple who are still active at CHS, were named.

That’s if we exclude football legends Clay Hughes and James Smith, who made a pretty good plea that they should be recognized for their pre-high school days.

“In 2001 when James and I were the water boys for the high school football team, I personally think that was one of the best performances Coupeville athletics has ever seen,” Hughes said.

“Check the team photo for that year … we are clear standouts.”

“Good luck trying to find any member of that team that was even remotely parched,” Smith said, nodding vigorously in agreement. “Not a single team has been that well hydrated since!”

CHS has a long and glorious history of water boys, but even Kyle King, who went on to win five state titles in track after his days of manning the H2O, bows in the direction of Hughes and Smith.

“I was a water boy back in 1998 with Bryan Sherman and Michael Bagby; we were pretty good … but being down there first hand I can’t say we compared to James and Clay.

“Hope this helps to give them the recognition they deserve!”

Once we got past the water boy detour, there was the vote for movie star Teen Wolf, and then along came urban legend Steven Dozier, the only one brave enough to ask if he could vote for himself.

He could, and he did, causing longtime friend (and honest to goodness hoops sensation back in the day) Allen Black to arch an eyebrow and snort.

But, when all was said and done, here’s how it broke down:


One vote:

Mike Bagby

Natasha Bamberger:

(“Her natural talent was stunning. She would lap people in a 3200. And it was effortless to her.” – Molly McPherson)

Novi Barron
Danny Conlisk
Matt Cross
Steven Dozier
Randy Duggan
Ashley Ellsworth-Bagby
David Ford
Tony Ford
Corinne Gaddis
Joy Hack
Kevin Hack

Hailey Hammer:

“Always such an amazing and supportive teammate” – Breeanna Messner

Matt Helm:

“I think he was more athletic than he seemed.” – Noah Roehl

Wiley Hesselgrave:

“Great team leader.” – Luke Merriman

Dianne Jacobsen
Brianne King
Tyler King
Steve Konek
Casey Larson

Jae LeVine:

“Cause she’s the coolest bean there is!” – Payton Wilson

Abraham Leyva:

“You goal-scoring machine!” – Jeremiah Pace

Jean Lund-Olsen
Tina Lyness

Breeanna Messner:

“Who doesn’t love her?” – Hailey Hammer

Amy Mouw
Sarah Mouw

Mitch Pelroy:

“Fast man!” – Ron Bodamer

TJ Rickner
Bill Riley
Lindsey Roberts

Noah Roehl:

“I was never blessed to get to play with him but I would nominate him for being an all-around awesome football player.” – Virgil Roehl

Virgil Roehl
Brad Sherman
Ian Smith
Megan Smith
Jeff Stone
Nick Streubel
Jim Syreen

Valen Trujillo:

“She always gave 100%, had a great attitude, was an amazing leader, and was kind to everyone” – Mikayla Elfrank

Kara Warder
Marlys West
Rich Wilson


Two votes:

Todd Brown:

“An amazing running back.” – Virgil Roehl

Linda Cheshier:

“Was such an impressive natural athlete to me! She rocked it in softball and basketball.” – Joli (Smith) Bartell

Corey Cross
Gavin Keohane
Pete Petrov
Todd Smith

Sean Toomey-Stout:

“Multiple defensive, and offensive plays executed all-around, including multiple TD’s. Hits seriously hard.” – Ben Smith

“All-around a big influence to the entire team to put in max effort. Always puts in his best effort every down.” – Dawson Houston

Jake Tumblin:

“Amazing leader and all-around athlete” – Korbin Korzan

Greg White


Three votes:

Ian Barron:

“Because … stats.” – Michael Meyer

Yashmeen Knox:

“I never played with her, but I watched her growing up play while my parents coached her! I idolized her not only on, but off the court too. I wanted to be just like her growing up. She was a rock star!” – Megan Smith

Hunter Smith:

“The combination of pure athleticism, leadership, and optimism was contagious. The work that guy put in when no one was watching was unprecedented. Phenomenal athlete, and an even better friend.” – Nick Etzell

“He is a great leader and an amazing athlete! Even if we were down 45 points, or a few runs, he always had a comeback mentality!” – Jacob Zettle

“Do I even have to explain? IT’S HUNTER SMITH!” – Alex Jimenez

Joli Smith:

“For all-around grace and style in multiple sports.” – Virgil Roehl


Four votes:

Makana Stone:

“By far one of the most supportive people on the team. She has always been a super-encouraging person and was always excited for you no matter the result. Just all-around amazing.” – Sylvia Hurlburt

“Ever since I stepped foot on the court I always felt welcome due to her and she made the game so much fun. Playing next to her for three years and being a co-captain with her for one of those years definitely showed me how to be a leader. She always brought such an amazing touch to that gym and team; she made us a family and it felt as if we were united. I will forever look up to her as a leader and an athlete.” – Kailey Kellner

Emily Vracin:

Great leader, positive attitude and stats. All-around awesome player.” – Gina (Dozier) Slowik


Nine votes:

Marlene Grasser:

“Best on the court and off.” – David Ford

“Best in every sport she did. Natural talent.” – Georgie Smith

“She was kind, supportive and an amazing athlete!” – Aleshia (McFadyen) Mitten

“She was pretty much my hero.” – Emily (Vracin) Kosderka

“She was my cousin and best role model ever; I’m blessed to have been able to play by her side. She also gave the BEST high fives ever!” – Shannon (Sherman) Martin

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Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame inductees CJ (left) and Hunter Smith, with lil’ sis, and probable future inductee, Scout. (Charlotte Young photo)

Sometimes you get lucky.

Coupeville has a history of losing great athletes in their prime thanks to family moves or other matters, from Kwamane Bowens and Jessica Riddle to Joe Whitney.

But, once in awhile, Cow Town gets to wave hello and not goodbye, hitting the jackpot when Sarah, Amy and Beth Mouw suddenly showed up, or when Jordan Ford, Amanda Allmer or Linda Cheshier popped in late in their prep careers.

The single biggest payoff, though, might have come when Chris Smith and Charlotte Young moved to Whidbey in 2014.

Both are coaches, and have gone on to work with Central Whidbey athletes, Charlotte on the little league softball diamond and Chris in high school volleyball, basketball and baseball.

But it was the fact they brought their three children, CJ, Hunter, and Scout, which really sealed the deal.

In one fell swoop, Coupeville athletics got a major injection of talent, hard work and class, and it’s been a sweet ride for local fans ever since.

While Scout is already making a name for herself, playing varsity volleyball, basketball and softball last year as a CHS sophomore, her career highlights are still being crafted.

Today, we gather to honor her older brothers, who, with their days as Wolf athletes having come to a close, gain entry into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, they’ll sit up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, where they join other stellar Wolf brother combos such as James and Ian Smith (no relation) and Kyle and Tyler King.

With CJ and Hunter, there hasn’t been much doubt since day one that they would be entering these hallowed digital hallways.

They were transcendent stars from the moment they pulled on the Wolf uniform for the first time, and they exited the same way they entered, pulling off remarkable achievements while showing the composure of a Zen master.

CJ was the first to hit, joining the CHS basketball team midway through his sophomore year.

One moment there was a newcomer in street clothes on the bench, intently watching the floor like a hawk while the stands buzzed about his possible identity. The next, he was part of the fabric of Wolf Nation.

He was always a strong basketball player, quick and committed and always about team, but he also soared on the football field, a two-way terror who caught passes and broke them up with equal skill.

It was the baseball diamond where CJ wrote the most impressive chapter of his Wolf career, however.

We had him for three full seasons in his favorite sport, and Captain Cool was the go-to guy when you needed a win, an out or a strike.

Hand him the ball, as the Wolves did when they played for their first league title in 25 years in 2016, and CJ was money in the bank.

Try to scan his face at any one moment when he was on the diamond, and it was virtually impossible to know if he was 10 runs up or trailing 1-0. There was no bend in the steel in his spine, no way to ruffle him or make him sweat.

CJ had multiple games where he soared, but the title-clincher will live on in memory forever … and in the words of this story:


Hunter was in the starting lineup that day, as well, notching the first of his two league titles (he would pull his own CJ-style senior moment in 2018, pitching the Wolves past Chimacum).

It was part of maybe the most-consistent four-year run I have seen any Coupeville athlete put together.

There’s a reason the middle child landed at #1 among male athletes when I picked the best I’ve covered in the six-year run of Coupeville Sports.

Other than a couple of times when injuries forced him to the sidelines, Hunter was in the lineup and making plays every dang day he had in a Wolf uniform.

On the football field, he torched foes, hauling in passes and turning them into touchdown romps, then popping right back out to pick off a rival QB on the next set of downs.

By the time he was finished, even missing the final five games of his senior year after having his body twisted in 23 different directions while being gang-tackled at Vashon, Hunter finished with seven CHS football records, most of any Wolf gridiron star.

Put him on a basketball court, pop a ball in his hand, pray his sometimes-balky back wouldn’t conspire against him, and he was old-school magic in a new-school world.

Hunter finished #12 all-time on the Wolf boys hoops scoring list, and would have gone higher if not for his back, and his own humility, as he was never one to run the score up.

There were times, numerous times, when he curtailed his own scoring to feed a hot teammate.

If Ethan Spark was feeling it from three-point land, or Wiley Hesselgrave was poppin’ hanging jumpers, Hunter made sure they had the ball.

When I say he was old-school, like his siblings, I mean it.

Hunter played, always, like someone who grew up with coaches for parents, and, when the legends of Wolf basketball came back to the CHS gym for last year’s 101-year anniversary, you could see (and hear) their appreciation for how he played the game.

Baseball capped his career, as he smacked hits left and right, fired strikes, won a league MVP, helped lead two title-winning teams and, even the one day he got (somewhat unfairly) tossed by an ump, played the game with — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — class above all else.

That is the defining trait of CJ, Hunter, ScoutChris, and Charlotte – class.

All five have a competitive fire that rages unabated, all approach each season with a glint in their eyes and a (slight) smile on their lips.

Talent flows through their veins, yes, but without class, talent means little.

As fans, we may appreciate talent, but we respect class. And my respect for their family is off the charts.

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Together since t-ball, and still going strong, are l to r, Nick Etzell, Mike Etzell and Jake Hoagland. (Lisa Jenne photo)

Summer baseball is about two things.

One, it’s a chance for the guys who just graduated to have a final farewell.

And, maybe more importantly, it’s a chance for the young guys who still have high school eligibility, to get some more work in while playing with their teammates.

So growth, and not wins and losses, was first on the checklist for Coupeville High School coach Chris Smith at the season-ending Enumclaw 4th of July Bash.

Consider that part of the agenda checked off, as the Wolves, while going 0-4, came within a run in their final two games.

And they did so with six of their 10 players (6 of 9 on the final day of play) scheduled to return next spring.

“Good tournament for us this weekend,” Chris Smith said. “No wins, but good work for our younger guys that are coming up.”

Coupeville opened with a tough draw on the first day of the tournament (Friday, July 6), falling 8-0 to the Puyallup Knights and 8-2 to the Thurston County Saints in a rain-shortened game.

After a day off, the Wolves returned to the diamond for a Sunday twin-bill, minus Olympic League MVP Hunter Smith, who departed for a family trip to Italy.

Playing with no bench (middle school ace Scott Hilborn was in uniform in case any of the starting nine went down), CHS was nipped 7-6 by the Avengers and 5-4 by Mac Baseball.

In both those games, Coupeville fought back from early deficits to reclaim a tie or the lead, only to give up the winning run in the seventh and final inning.

But, while the wins didn’t come, the hits did for the young guns, as potential returning players accounted for nine of the 15 hits rapped out on the weekend by the Wolves.

Matt Hilborn and Dane Lucero, who will be seniors next year, led the way, both collecting four hits apiece.

Lucero walloped a double, while Hilborn had the team’s biggest base-knock, crunching a seventh-inning RBI triple to left against the Avengers.

The recently graduated Jake Hoagland (1B, 2B), Hunter Smith (1B, 1B), Nick Etzell (1B) and Joey Lippo (1B) notched their final hits in a Wolf uniform, while junior-to-be Gavin Knoblich smoked a single.

Underclassmen Mason Grove, Gavin Straub and Daniel Olson rounded out the Wolf roster, with all three coming around to score at least once during the weekend.

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