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Virgil Roehl, with dad Tom, missed a chunk of his senior football season in 1993 after suffering a broken leg. (Photo courtesy Noah Roehl)

In the prep sports world, November is a month of transition.

Normally.

In years without ongoing pandemics, November is when fall sports have their final moments, then everyone heads inside and starts work for the upcoming basketball season.

Now, 2020 is not normal, and we haven’t had live games in Coupeville, in any sport, since back in February.

And won’t for at least the rest of this calendar year.

But, thanks to old sports sections I kept from my days as Whidbey News-Times Sports Editor, we can look back at two Novembers — 1992 and 1993 — when things were still hoppin’.

I worked at the paper through ’94, but, by November of that year, was into a 12-year run behind the counter at Videoville.

Like I said, a month of transition.

But hop in the time machine and let’s go back.

 

November 1992:

The Wolf football team, which pulled off a stunning Homecoming win –https://coupevillesports.com/2020/10/28/under-siege-a-win-for-the-ages/ — finished 4-5 and earned this quote from coach Ron Bagby.

“I was a little disappointed that we didn’t win a few more games that we could have. But we played hard and surprised some people.”

Shifty QB Troy Blouin and bruising back Todd Brown led a seven-pack of departing seniors, but the table was far from bare, with junior Virgil Roehl and Kit Manzanares leading a strong group of underclassmen.

The duo, fellow junior Jeremiah Prater, and Brown all landed on the All-Cascade League squad.

In the gym, the CHS spikers were in a rebuilding year after losing All-League players Linda Cheshier and Emily Vracin, but a 2-13 record was a little misleading, as many matches were close.

Led by team MVP Kari Iverson, All-League pick Misty Sellgren, and rock-solid senior Joli Smith, the young Wolves surprised with a third-place finish at the late-season Darrington Tournament.

Marlys “The Masher” West claimed Outstanding Hitter at the team’s awards banquet, but coach Deb Whittaker was pleased to get production across the board.

“I thought we played well,” she said. “Each game it wasn’t one kid who got all the kills. We spread it around; that was exciting.”

Coupeville’s other fall squads sent multiple athletes to district, with six tennis players and two cross country runners advancing to the postseason.

For the Wolf netters, Keith Currier and Jon Crimmins excelled, while the harriers gave two of their three postseason awards to middle schoolers.

Gerald McIntosh, the lone senior on the ’92 team, was MVP.

Meanwhile, up-and-comers Paul Donnallen (Wolf Award) and Lily Gunn (Most Inspirational) led a middle school group which included future stars (in other sports) Marnie Bartelson and Scott Stuurmans.

Rounding out fall of ’92 was the CHS cheer squad, with Greta Robinett (Wolf Award), Gina Dozier (Coaches Award), and Dawn Caveness (Most Spirited) honored.

 

November 1993:

This was a rough fall for CHS, at least in terms of wins and losses, but there were moments, which now in hindsight, signaled much-better times around the corner.

The biggest of these was Kim Meche taking over the Wolf volleyball program.

The first person I ever inducted into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, she launched a resurgence in the program, one which Toni Crebbin kept going after Meche left to take school administration jobs.

In ’93, the varsity spikers were led by Sellgren (Best Offense), Jenn Youngsman (Best Defense), and a pack of hard workers like Mika Hosek, West, Sara Griggs, and Natalie Slater.

Scroll down to the JV and C-Team awards for that season, and it’s dominated by names which have stood the test of time — Jen Canfield, Mimi Iverson, Vanessa Bodley, Emrie McCauslin, and Jacelyn Cobb.

Now, to be honest, back in those days, trying to balance Oak Harbor and Coupeville, I only covered varsity matches in person.

Which may be why I managed to screw up BOTH of Emrie’s names in my newspaper awards story, calling her “Emily McCaulsin.”

Yikes…

Hopefully I made up for it years later by always spelling daughter Maddy Hilkey’s name correctly (I think…) through her middle and high school athletic exploits.

Back in ’93, Kirk Sherrill replaced Chet Baker as coach, inheriting a team with virtually no playing experience.

But the Wolves had Chad Jones, a first-year player and senior, who did a really good imitation of Jim Carrey, so they had entertainment.

In a side note, Jones would go in to star in Dreamer, an award-winning (seriously, I have the certificate!) short film we made once I moved on to Videoville.

So, yeah.

Out on the prairie, Eileen Kennedy, who had previously played volleyball, emerged as Coupeville’s top cross country runner, starting down a path which would lead to joining Meche in our Hall o’ Fame.

Life on the gridiron wasn’t full of much joy in ’93, however, as a string of injuries and ineligible players gutted the roster.

None hurt as badly as when Wolf QB Virgil Roehl missed a considerable chunk of his senior year with a broken leg.

Still, despite playing in only a handful of games for a 1-8 team, he joined Prater in being named as a First-Team All-League pick on defense.

Other league honorees included Manzanares, Jason Hughes, Scott Kirkwood, Jimmy Bennett, Scott Gadbois, and Brad Miller.

Coupeville cheer was led by Sarah Engle (Coaches Award) and Lark Eelkema (Most Spirited), while the one Wolf athlete who truly had an outstanding fall wore a different uniform.

After much back-and-forth, CHS formed a “unified” girls soccer team with Oak Harbor High School, and a previously dormant program lurched to life, narrowly missing the state playoffs.

The squad, coached by Coupeville’s Carol Bartelson, swept arch-rival Cascade for the first time, scared powerhouse Snohomish, and put the state on notice.

Playing in OHHS uniforms, the Wildcats were stung by the loss of Amiee Montiel — one of the most dynamic athletes I’ve ever covered — when the explosive playmaker suffered a brutal broken nose that kept her on the bench for seven games.

But in her absence, Coupeville freshman Marnie Bartelson seized the spotlight, shattering the school scoring record by tallying 15 goals.

It was the start of something big … and a something big I missed out on.

I left the News-Times in mid-1994, went and toiled for a few months on the mussel rafts in Penn Cove (why??), then snuggled down in Videoville starting Oct. 4 – the same day the original Jurassic Park hit VHS.

Meanwhile, the OHHS/CHS girls soccer squad took off like a rocket, with Marnie and Co. running wild.

Behind her, dominating in the net, was a new goalie, and second player from Coupeville, one Amanda Allmer.

She and her family moved to The Rock after I left the WNT, just in time for her senior year, and Allmer rocked the joint as a soccer star and basketball supernova.

Led by their Wolves, the Wildcats made their first trip to the state tourney and made it a big one, winning two matches en route to a 4th place finish in 3A.

It was the first of three-straight trips to the big dance for the program, none of which I covered.

Instead, I was knee-deep in movies and spilled popcorn, living a different dream.

Oh well.

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Coupeville football coach Tom Roehl holds the line during a summer camp workout. (Photos by Geoff Newton)

It was a different time.

For one thing, newspaper photographers were still using dark rooms and often had to come back at halftime of games to develop their photos to make deadline.

For another thing, small-town newspapers still employed full-time staff photographers…

Welcome to the rollicking early ’90s, a time when I was posing as a professional newspaper whiz kid, one with a business card which ID’d me as Sports Editor at the Whidbey News-Times.

There are rumors I even wore pants!

You can ponder that startling bit of background info, or just marinate in some non-David pics from that time.

I recommend the latter.

Wolf softball players head to the dugout after a strong defensive stand.

Nick Sellgren (second from left) helps a teammate feel the burn.

Troy Blouin gets creative.

Kit Manzanares hits the tape like a boss.

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Eileen Kennedy, seen here during cross country, was one of Coupeville’s top track and field athletes in May 1993. (David Svien photo)

Big hits, fast times, big arguments.

There was a lot going on in the world of Coupeville sports 27 years ago, as we ambled through the month of May, 1993.

I was in the middle part of my run as possibly the youngest Sports Editor in Whidbey News-Times history, a bumpy ride which began in ’92, when I was a 21-year-old who refused to go to college, and wrapped up in ’94.

My departure from the ranks of the ink-stained wretches was followed by an epically stupid decision to go toil on the mussel rafts in Penn Cove, then sweet respite with a 12-year run behind the counter at Videoville.

Oh, and that exit from the WNT?

It came mere seconds before Zenovia Barron and Willie Smith arrived at CHS, ready to revolutionize girls basketball on the prairie.

So, yeah … timed that especially well, David, you idiot.

But I was still in place at the newspaper in mid-1993, and I have the old sports sections to prove it.

Leafing through them the other day, I was taken back to a time when the biggest story was the ongoing dispute over Coupeville students being allowed to play soccer at Oak Harbor High School.

CHS didn’t have its own pitch programs back then, and wouldn’t for awhile.

So, with daughter Marnie headed to high school, Ernie and Carol Bartelson, who were, respectively, the Coupeville Superintendent and the OHHS girls soccer coach, applied for the creation of a unified program.

Something Wildcat Athletic Director Joyce Foxx fought every step of the way.

There were arguments, counter arguments, appeals, reversals, and then, finally — as May 1993 crested on the horizon — the Oak Harbor school board overruled their AD and approved the program.

A year-and-a-half later, with Marnie Bartelson leading the team in scoring, and CHS newcomer Amanda Allmer a one-season wonder at goalie, the Oak Harbor/Coupeville squad claimed 4th place at the 4A state tourney, best finish in program history.

Not that I was around to see it happen live, as I spent November 1994 celebrating my one-month anniversary in the video store biz, trying to keep the store popcorn machine from catching on fire, while also shooing the occasional pesky squirrel back out into the parking lot.

But, back in 1993, I was still trying to balance coverage of Oak Harbor and Coupeville sports in the pages of the WNT, much to the delight of Oak Harbor fans.

I kid.

Back before email, when people were ticked off at the Sports Editor, they had to go old-school and write me a letter.

Which they did. Often.

In their minds, Oak Harbor, as the bigger burg, ruled, and I drooled when I dared to treat Coupeville as an equal.

And here we are, 27 years later, and I still haven’t listened. I’m a slow learner, apparently.

In ’93, CHS fielded softball, baseball, track, and girls tennis teams in the spring (remember, no soccer at that time), with the diamond queens leading the way.

The Wolf softball sluggers, led by senior Joli Smith and freshman Courtney White, finished 12-8 for coach Tom Eller, while playing at Rhododendron Park.

Coupeville narrowly missed the playoffs, but found a superstar in White, who pounded out nine triples and seven doubles.

She was backed up by a solid senior class of Smith, Kari Iverson, Susie Mathis, Gina Dozier, and Jenni Hays, as well as fast-rising younger stars like Natalie Slater, Mika Hosek, Sara Griggs, and Mimi Iverson.

The defining May moment came against Bellevue Christian on the 12th, when Smith tallied four RBI, including a go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the seventh in an 8-4 victory.

A three-sport star who also played volleyball and basketball for the Wolves, the future Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famer had a talent for coming up big in crucial moments, and remains, to this day, one of the best I have ever covered.

Meanwhile, out on the tennis court, the Wolves sent singles players Lupine Wutzke and Kiersten Yager and the doubles duos of Megan Gale/Cheng Kang and Jenni Biller/Iris Binnewies to districts.

Wutzke claimed third place, just missing out on a trip to state, but Chet Baker’s squad had its best May moment back on the 4th, when it bounced Blaine in a wild affair.

Storming from behind, the Wolves rode a win at third doubles from Kang and Jee Hae Lee to snatch away a 3-2 win at home.

While Coupeville’s baseball team didn’t have the same success as the softball squad, finishing just 5-15 for coach Mike Rice, the Wolf diamond men did have their moments.

Especially when they faced Bellevue Christian.

Coupeville’s final two wins of the season came against the Vikings, and both featured big-time performances from Wolf pitchers.

On April 28, Keith Currier whiffed eight batters en route to a 9-0 win, the only shutout earned by a CHS hurler in the ’93 season.

The lanky senior fireball chucker also racked up a pair of hits at the plate, with Keith Dunnagan and Jon Crimmins each adding two base-knocks to the cause.

But wait. That happened in April, and we’re talking about May in this story.

Well, the story ran in the May 1, 1993 edition of the News-Times, so I say it counts.

And it’s my blog anyway. What are you going to do? Write a letter to the editor?

Anyways … Coupeville followed that up with a much-closer 8-7 win over BC on … sweet sassy molassy … April 30.

OK, that was my 22nd birthday, and hey, the CHS baseball season ended May 3, so we don’t have a lot of May to work with here, and the story ran in the May 5 paper.

We’re good.

In that final win Cody Lowe was the man of the moment, saving his seventh and final strikeout of the afternoon for the exclamation point.

Clinging to a one-run lead, the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Wolf hurler was behind 3-1 on the count.

Not a problem, as Lowe reared back and whipped back-to-back perfect pitches, ending the game on a called third strike.

“On the last pitch everything stood still for a moment,” Rice said afterwards. “Then the umpire went ‘strike three!’ and everybody started celebrating.

“It was nice to pull one out like that.”

While every CHS spring sport enjoyed some degree of success in ’93, it was track, with the smallest roster, which probably stood tallest.

The Wolves, coached by Julie Klapperich and Kirk Sherill, featured just six girls and 11 boys that season, with five Coupeville athletes advancing to districts, and two to state.

Kit Manzanares and Suzanne Steele made the trip to Eastern Washington for the 1A championships, with Manzanares bringing home 8th place finishes in the 100 and long jump.

Steele, who led the CHS girls by earning 137 points during the regular season (Marissa Slater and Eileen Kennedy followed with 85 and 76, respectively), competed in the high jump, but didn’t medal.

Other Wolves who shone brightly that spring included Virgil Roehl, Ryan McManigle, Maricar Salimbangon, Ray Shelly, and Elke Kegler.

And then, in the final edition of the News-Times in May 1993, a paper which hit doorsteps on Saturday the 29th, there’s a small story about the Coupeville Middle School track team.

These days, I write about 7th and 8th graders all the time here on Coupeville Sports. Back then, with two high schools to (sort of) balance, not so much.

But there it is, with future Hall o’ Famer Jerry Helm, then a brash 7th grader, claiming 2nd in the hurdles, along with 3rd in both the high jump and 200.

Right below that, it says Novi Barron (long jump, 1st).

So I did type her name at least once in my newspaper days.

I never saw her play in person, but have been told many times by those who played, coached, or cheered her, that Novi was the best athlete to ever walk the hallways at CHS.

If I knew then what I know now, would I have hung on longer at the News-Times, like a semi-responsible adult?

Just as she began to singe the net as a Wolf freshman basketball player, I sank into the world of VHS tapes in need of rewinding, gumball machines in need of stocking, and Reese’s Pieces in need of eating.

I missed the show, and, by the time I came back around to writing about sports, Novi was gone.

What could of been, in a different life.

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Emma Smith (John Fisken photos)

   Emma Smith unloads a killer serve in a recent match. (John Fisken photos)

Smith

Smith points to a bright, bright future.

And one suitable for mom Konni to frame.

And one suitable for mom Konni to frame.

Well, that settles it.

Emma Smith has superstar written all over her, and when it was brought to my attention that former Wolf legend Joli Smith was her aunt, the deal was sealed.

Back in my early days, when I was a 21-year-old sports editor at the Whidbey News-Times, Joli was among the best athletes I covered, both skills-wise and personality-wise.

And it looks like her niece, who celebrates a birthday today and plays in a volleyball match tonight, will follow in her dad’s sister’s epic foot prints.

Emma was sensational at the middle school level in multiple sports, and hitting high school hasn’t slowed her roll at all.

The tall, hard-hitting, camera-friendly Wolf is the only freshman on the CHS varsity volleyball squad, and she’s not just there to keep a seat warm.

Emma has already played in two of her team’s three matches and put up strong stats.

She already has the length to be a top hitter, and as her confidence grows and her skills continue to be fine-tuned, she should team with other younger stars like Katrina McGranahan, Kyla Briscoe and Lauren Rose to make for a formidable force.

When spring rolls around, Smith is expected to put her track shoes back on, and her blazing quickness is well documented.

At CMS, she never finished lower than second in any relay she ran in, while also showing a dynamic side as a thrower. In one meet, Emma claimed first in both the shot put and discus.

Of course, as good an athlete as she appears to be, the other part which will make her a legend in these parts is her willingness to join the hallowed tradition of Wolves who LOVE to have their photo taken.

Emma may not be at the McKenzie Bailey Photo Bomb Queen gold standard level quite yet, but she’s young and she shows great promise, either by herself or with fellow frosh like Ashley Menges, Maddy Hilkey, Ashlie Shank and Lindsey Roberts.

As she enjoys her big day (a win over Orcas Island would be a nice present), we want to wish Joli’s niece all the best.

Happy birthday, Emma.

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