Posts Tagged ‘Hunter Smith’

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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   A Central Whidbey Little League softball player fires in a fastball, one of several events I missed by not writing for the past month. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

“I must break you!!”

“I can so hit the sun! Just watch.”

Ringin’ up runs on the board.

So, anything happen while I was gone?

Take a month off to stare into the abyss and when you come back, you find out life pretty much keeps flowing right by in your absence.

A quick look at some of the things I would have been talking about if I had been writing during June:


Coupeville High School assistant coach Amanda Jones resigned.

A promotion at work, and a young daughter at home, greatly reduced her availability.


CHS hired Marcus Carr as its new head coach.

A resident of Oak Harbor, he went 13-6-1 over the past two years while coaching Concrete.

Carr replaces Jon Atkins, who stepped down after two years. Also departing were assistants Jerry Helm and Brad Sherman.

At the middle school level, Brett Casey has been hired to replace Bob Martin, who stepped down after last season.

Cross Country:

The Wolves are getting back into the harrier biz full-time for the first time in two decades, and have hired Natasha Bamberger (high school) and Elizabeth Bitting (middle school) to coach.

Bamberger was a five-time state champ during her time at CHS, winning four titles in track and claiming top honors in cross country during her senior season in 1985.

Bitting, also a standout runner during her school days (just not in Coupeville), is also the track and field coach at CMS.


A major disaster was avoided as the Central Whidbey Soccer Club, which was down to one (departing) board member, pulled off a last-second miracle.

After months of being unable to find anyone to join its Board of Directors, CWSC hit pay-dirt after a final-ditch plea to the public.

League President Reese Cernick heads up the new seven-member board, and the fall youth season, which would have been cancelled, is back on and begins registration July 1.


Six Wolves were tabbed as All-Conference players, with senior pitcher Katrina McGranahan honored as Olympic League MVP.


CHS hurler Hunter Smith was tabbed as league MVP, while also being named as a First-Team All-State player.

Smith and fellow senior Joey Lippo both made the cut for the All-State series, as well, but had to pass when the games conflicted with graduation.

One Central Whidbey Little League team is still playing, with Coupeville’s Babe Ruth squad, coached by Steve Hilborn, taking its 16-0 record to the state tourney July 11-15.


CHS senior Danny Conlisk is spending the summer running with the Kitsap Fliers, a select squad.

He competed in four events (400, 4 x 1, 4 x 4, 4 x 8) at the state meet, and now moves on to Regionals in Oregon.

Continue his winning ways and Conlisk will be North Carolina-bound for the Junior Olympics national meet.


To see more Fisken pics and possibly purchase some glossies for grandma, bounce over to:


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   Coupeville High School baseball coach Chris Smith surveys the field in Tacoma Saturday afternoon. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

   The Wolves were eliminated from the playoffs a game short of state, but, at 15-6, had their best season in more than a decade.

One trip too many.

Making its third trip to the wilds of Tacoma in a five-day span, the Coupeville High School baseball squad finally ran out of steam.

Despite playing error-free ball and getting strong work on the mound from Hunter Smith and Dane Lucero, the Wolves fell 8-3 Saturday to Charles Wright Academy and were eliminated from the district playoffs.

CWA, which rebounded to win two straight after being drilled 10-0 by CHS in the opening game of districts, joins Bellevue Christian in advancing to the state tourney.

The Tarriers may have beat the Wolves, but they have their work cut out for them next weekend, facing last year’s 1A state runner-ups, Cedar Park Christian (Bothell).

The loss drops Coupeville’s final record to 15-6, which is still the best mark the program has achieved in more than a decade.

The Wolves, who won their second Olympic League title in three years, had at least one runner on in five of seven innings, but couldn’t land the KO punch to CWA hurler Blake Nygren.

The Tarrier junior gave up two-out singles to Smith in the first and Jake Pease in the second, but squirmed away unharmed both times.

Smith was more than matching him, blowing through the first six CWA hitters.

The game took a turn in the top of the third, however, as Charles Wright connected on a lead-off double, then delivered four straight two-out hits, plating three runners.

Coupeville got one back in the bottom of the inning, thanks to Nick Etzell being plunked by a pitch, then coming around to score on a two-out RBI single off of Smith’s bat.

That base-knock was the last time the Wolves would touch Nygren for some time, though, as CHS went 11 batters between base-hits.

Other than Pease wearing a pitch in the fourth, Coupeville got nothing going offensively in the fourth through sixth.

The same wasn’t true for CWA, however, as the Tarriers, after going meekly in the fourth and fifth, found their groove in the top of the sixth.

Using a mix of well-placed hits and walks, Charles Wright tacked on five runs to turn a 3-1 nail-biter into an 8-1 romp.

Dane Lucero came on in relief of Smith, who whiffed seven, and got the Wolves out of the sixth, then pitched the seventh.

The CHS junior retired four of the five hitters he faced, surrendering just a walk.

Down to their final outs, the Wolves showed the never-say-die attitude which marked their entire season.

Senior Jake Hoagland led off with a single, Coupeville’s first hit since Smith’s RBI single back in the third, then scored when Pease reached on an error.

The final run of the season came courtesy senior second-baseman Nick Etzell, who lofted a sac fly.

That was it for the Wolves, however, with their turbo-charged run coming to an end on a ground-out to third.

CWA out-hit Coupeville 9-4 on the afternoon, and the Tarriers had four extra-base hits while the Wolves were limited to singles.

Smith delivered two of those, with Pease and Hoagland adding the other base-knocks.

CHS, which joins the new North Sound Conference next year, had a great run under coach Chris Smith, who was in his first full season running the program.

Three of the Wolves four regular-season losses were by a single run, with two of those coming to 2A schools. They also were a perfect 8-0 at home.

That was one prairie win for every senior on the roster, as Coupeville graduates Smith, Etzell, Hoagland, Julian Welling, Joey Lippo, James Vidoni, Kyle Rockwell and Jacob Zettle.

The cupboard is far from bare though, as the Wolves can return current juniors Lucero, Pease, Matt Hilborn and Shane Losey, as well as sophomores Gavin Knoblich and Jered Brown.

Freshman Daniel Olson made his varsity pitching debut in the league-clinching game, while junior Ty Eck was on the opening day varsity roster before a nagging football injury prevented him from playing.

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   Jake Pease crunched a pair of hits Tuesday as Coupeville thrashed Charles Wright 10-0 to open the playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The old streak is dead. Long live the new streak.

Jumping aggressively on Charles Wright Academy early, and never letting up, the Coupeville High School baseball squad rolled to a 10-0 win Tuesday in its district playoff opener.

The win, coming on a neutral field at Foss High School, snaps a five-game playoff losing streak for the Wolves and puts them a game away from punching their ticket to state.

Coupeville, which is 15-4 and has won 12 of its last 13 games, travels to Charles Wright Academy Thursday to face Bellevue Christian in the West Central District 3 title game.

The Vikings, the #1 seed out of the Nisqually League, drilled Chimacum 13-1 Tuesday and are 12-6 on the season.

After knocking off CWA, the Wolves now have two shots to advance to state for the first time since 2014.

Beat BC Thursday and it’s a done deal.

Lose Thursday and CHS heads to Curtis High School Saturday for a winner-to-state, loser-goes-home 2nd place bout.

That game would pit the Wolves against the survivor of Thursday’s Chimacum vs. CWA game.

For the moment, though, that’s all ahead and the focus is strictly on the Wolves breaking through and writing a different tale in the playoffs.

After winning four of five playoff games to start the 2014 postseason, Coupeville had dropped its last five under three different coaches.

CHS was eliminated 2-1 by Rochester in the first round of state in ’14, then fell 1-0 to Cascade Christian at districts in 2015, the final game of Willie Smith’s stellar, two-decades career as ball coach.

Marc Aparicio’s squad fell 13-0 to Cascade Christian and 6-1 to Seattle Christian in his one full season at the helm in 2016.

Current coach Chris Smith lost 2-1 to Bellevue Christian after taking over midway through the 2017 season, but evened his playoff record Tuesday afternoon.

“We were loving it!,” the jubilant coach said. “The guys were hunting big game.”

Coupeville dominated in every facet of the game, outhitting the Tarriers 11-4, playing error-free ball in the field and getting a concise, powerful performance from starting hurler Hunter Smith.

The senior staff ace used just 76 pitches across six innings, whiffing five and never giving up more than one base-knock per inning.

The Wolves, on the other hand, came out swinging the big bats and never let up.

Matt Hilborn led off the game with a sharp single, and CHS plated four runs in the top of the first to effectively put the game on ice.

Hunter Smith launched a one-out triple to bring Hilborn around, then scampered home himself on an RBI single by Julian Welling.

Capping things off, Jake Pease, returning from an injury, followed a Dane Lucero single with a game-busting two-run double.

The Wolves pressed their advantage at the plate all afternoon, though Charles Wright managed to somehow escape the third inning unscathed even after surrendering three hits, including a moon shot of a double off of Welling’s bat.

CHS tacked on a run in the fourth, with Joey Lippo singling, swiping second and coming around on an error, then the Wolves closed things out with a bang in the sixth.

Nick Etzell, who, like Pease, is returning from an injury, kicked things off with a single.

After that came a string of walks, a nicely-hit two-run single from Lucero, then a bunch of jumpy moments for the Tarrier hurler.

Capping what was a truly awful day for the CWA program, the final run came home not on a hit or a walk, but on a balk that allowed Lucero to stroll in from third.

Coupeville spread its offense out, with eight different Wolves collecting a hit.

Welling and Pease led the way, with a single and double apiece, while Hunter Smith had his three-bagger and Lucero collected a pair of singles.

Hilborn, Lippo, Jake Hoagland and Etzell rounded out the hit parade with a base-knock apiece, while Kyle Rockwell and Gavin Knoblich chipped in with solid defense.

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