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Ellie Marble (8), in action against Coupeville’s Lucy Tenore (left) and Jill Prince, led La Conner to another state volleyball title. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They lost to the best.

The Coupeville High School volleyball squad only came up short against one other 2B school this fall, and that rival ended up once again ruling the state.

La Conner, which handed the Wolves three of their six losses — the other defeats came in non-conference tilts with 1A schools — clinched a third-straight 2B state title Friday.

The Braves, who finished 22-0, didn’t drop a set in sweeping through four matches at the Yakima Valley SunDome.

The 2021 title follows on the heels of similar wins in 2019 and 2018. There was no postseason in 2020, due to Covid.

La Conner previously claimed the crown in 2002, 2006, and 2007, all under current coach Suzanne Marble.

The Braves swept through their foes, knocking off Rainier (25-7, 25-13, 25-7) and Okanogan (25-18, 25-14, 25-7) Thursday.

Then came Friday wins over Manson and Walla Walla Valley (25-15, 25-13, 25-12) in the semifinals and final, respectively.

Manson beat Raymond in the 3rd/4th match, with Colfax (5th), Goldendale (6th), Liberty (Spangle) (7th), and Adna (8th) rounding out award winners.

 

Darrington has busy day:

While La Conner claimed the only ticket out of District 1/2 to the 2B state tourney, leaving Coupeville a match short, the third-place team in the Northwest 2B/1B League also advanced to the big dance.

Taking advantage of a more wide-open field in 1B, Darrington earned a shot and turned it into a three-match adventure.

The Loggers opened Thursday with a 3-0 win over Evergreen Lutheran, before falling 3-0 to #1 Oakesdale and 3-2 to Pomeroy to be eliminated.

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Haley Thompson, seen here on Senior Night during football season, is part of a state title-winning Oak Harbor High School competition cheer squad. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Alyssa Carlon is also part of a 15-person Wildcat squad.

Whidbey Island still rules the cheer world.

While Coupeville High School didn’t field a team during this pandemic-altered school year, its neighbors to the North did.

And spoiler alert? Oak Harbor’s cheer program, which has a long history of success, is still making new additions to the trophy case.

Competing virtually, the Wildcats claimed a state title this past weekend, earning top honors from the Washington State Cheer Coaches Association.

OHHS topped all entrants in the Traditional Non-Tumbling Medium class, with Auburn Riverside claiming second, and Bethel collecting third.

The Wildcats are led by coach Jazmin Jones, who has been in charge of the program since 2017.

 

Her championship squad includes:

Melany Alanis
Johanna Asencio-Morcillo
Francisca Bartlett
Amber Biller
Alyssa Carlon
Jocelyn Carlon
Cassidy Gore
Audrey Moyes
Leah Murphy
Asya Pressley
Mariah Roach
Tatyana Smith
Griffin Stein
Haley Thompson
Annaliza Toliniu

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Coupeville Middle School track and cross country coach Elizabeth Bitting leads by example. (Photos courtesy Bitting)

Bitting flies across the course during her high school days in California.

   Mt. San Antonio College and team captain Bitting (second from right, back row) celebrate the school’s first cross country state title.

This is a dream come true for Elizabeth Bitting.

After spending the last four years as the track and field coach at Coupeville Middle School, the dedicated life-long runner will be at the forefront of the Wolves returning to cross country.

A team captain on a state title-winning harrier team in her college days, Bitting brings a lifetime of experience with her after being named as the new CMS cross country coach.

She’ll team with new CHS coach and local running legend Natasha Bamberger, who returns to the school where she won a cross country state title and four track state titles in the ’80s.

The duo are in charge of resurrecting cross country programs which have lain largely dormant for two decades.

While individual Wolf runners have trained and traveled with first Oak Harbor, then South Whidbey, in recent years, CHS and CMS have not had in-school cross country programs of their own in a long time.

“I started coaching middle school track and field four years ago and to be completely honest this has always been my hope, that cross country would make a comeback,” Bitting said. “There are so many positives in bringing cross country back.

“For middle school, not everybody is a football player or volleyball player,” she added. “This gives our student athletes another choice.”

Cross country mixes aspects of team and individual performance, and, like track, is often about rising up to better your own best.

“Running helps to promote good health and an active lifestyle,” Bitting said. “We train as a team, race as a team, however it could feel like an individual sport.

“The athletes biggest competitor will be themselves and their previous times,” she added. “They will work hard, push themselves harder and hopefully carry this over into their academics and personal life.”

Support for the new program is especially strong at the middle school level, where Bitting has already seen 12 athletes express interest in running this fall. That number could grow before practice begins Aug. 22.

“The reaction at the middle school level has been great!,” she said. “It is due to the students that this is even happening.

“If it wasn’t for their interest I would still be waiting for the day that cross country makes a comeback.”

Bitting’s own trail running days began when she was a middle-school athlete in Southern California, then continued through her days at Walnut High School and Mt. San Antonio College.

Her high school teams won multiple league titles, then the young harrier made a major jump when she moved into college running.

Mt. SAC had the second-hardest cross country course in the U.S. at the time, which toughened the Mounties as they trained.

That paid off when a squad led by Bitting, who was team captain, won the 1988 California State Community College Championships.

The win kicked off a run of four titles in five years, and the school’s female harriers have now piled up nine first-place finishes, with the most-recent in 2017.

Her success on the trail fueled Bitting, and she has continued to embrace the sport throughout the years.

“My love of running has not subsided and I continue to run to this day,” she said. “Nowadays you’ll find me out in the trails.”

Along with her tenure as CMS track coach, Bitting has been a driving force behind the growth of running in Central Whidbey.

She helped bring the half marathon back to Coupeville with Dash for the Bash (later renamed Race the Reserve), which raises money for the senior class at CHS.

Toss in numerous 5K runs, and if someone is competing, Bitting is usually involved, either behind the scenes or out running herself.

While she thoroughly enjoys her own time on the trails, the Wolf coach draws great joy from helping young runners achieve their goals and hopefully launch their own life-long love of running.

“It makes me so happy seeing our middle school athletes move on to high school and continue their participation in track and field,” Bitting said. “I am hoping to do the same for cross country.”

As she works with Bamberger to kick-start the Wolf program, she has high hopes.

“I have multiple goals for the program,” Bitting said. “For the athletes, I want to see them enjoy, embrace, do well, and have fun during the season.

“I would also like to see them continue with cross country in high school, college and beyond,” she added. “For the program, I want to see it flourish. I’d like to see it be around for decades to come.”

If having a committed, enthusiastic coach at the helm is a key to success, and it usually is, the CMS harriers have hit the jackpot.

“I feel privileged to have been given this opportunity to coach the middle school athletes,” Bitting said. “I hope my knowledge and enthusiasm helps the athletes to enjoy the sport as much as I do.”

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