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   Avalon Renninger is one of 29 Wolves who could stick the landing and be three-sport athletes in 2017-2018. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Commitment seems to be at an all-time high.

Two-thirds of the way through the 2017-2018 school year, we are on target for the most three-sport athletes in one year at Coupeville High School in the six years of this blog.

From 2012-2013 until 2016-2017, CHS twice topped out at 23 iron men (and women), but this year the Wolves could hit as high as 29.

Now, that comes with a very big “if.”

If everyone on this list turns out for a spring sport. If no one gets lured away by school work, or a job, or driver’s education or spring fever or injuries.

And, because of that last word, we know, barring a miracle, the target number is really 28 and not 29.

Mikayla Elfrank’s badly-injured ankle, which shut her down midway through basketball season, is all but certain to keep her out of action through the spring, which is too bad.

But, if softball, baseball, girls tennis, boys soccer and track provide enough of a lure to keep most of the rest of this list in action, CHS will be blessed.

Three-sport athletes are huge, especially at a small school, where every body counts.

I would also add this — if you want to play college sports, at any level, playing multiple sports is a huge plus.

If you look at former Wolves who have competed for collegiate programs in recent years, or are currently active, almost every single one was a three-sport athlete during their days in Coupeville.

Tyler King, Makana Stone, Nick Streubel, Hailey Hammer, Ben Etzell, Monica Vidoni, Mitch Pelroy, and the list goes on and on.

Among the athletes on that list, King soared the highest, achieving NCAA D-1 All-American status as a cross country and track runner while on scholarship at the University of Washington.

Running was his forte, but he didn’t obsessively limit himself, playing basketball as well, where he was a starter and key contributor on the last great Wolf boys team, the 2009-2010 team which went 16-5.

Playing other sports provided King a chance to grow as an athlete and competitor.

College coaches, at every level, from D-1 to community college, are vocal about their preference for athletes who stretched themselves and tried multiple sports, over those who obsess (and often burn out) as a one-sport specialist.

And if you’re not going to play college sports? Take full advantage of your high school days.

Don’t look back and say “dang, I wish I had played…”

So, with all that in mind, here’s a look at how CHS has finished in previous years:

2012-2013 — (18 three-sport athletes)
2013-2014 — (23)
2014-2015 — (20)
2015-2016 — (17)
2016-2017 — (23)

The 29 who could achieve the feat this year (still hoping Mikayla wakes up tomorrow and her leg is miraculously healed…) and what they’ve played so far:

Mollie Bailey (frosh) (soccer, basketball)
Trevor Bell
(soph) (football, BB)
Kyla Briscoe
(sr) (volleyball, BB) 
Kylie Chernikoff
(frosh) (VB, BB)
Koa Davison
(soph) (FB, BB)
Hunter Downes
(sr) (FB, BB)
Mikayla Elfrank (sr) (VB, BB)
Mason Grove
(soph) (tennis, BB)
Maddy Hilkey
(jr) (socc, BB)
Gavin Knoblich
(soph) (FB, BB)
Kalia Littlejohn
(jr) (socc, BB)
Ryan Labrador
(jr) (FB, BB)
Joey Lippo
(sr) (tenn, BB)
Dane Lucero
(jr) (FB, BB)
Jean Lund-Olsen
(soph) (FB, BB)
Jake Pease
(jr) (FB, BB)
Chelsea Prescott
(frosh) (VB, BB)
Avalon Renninger
(soph) (socc, BB)
Lindsey Roberts (jr) (socc, BB)
Kyle Rockwell
(sr) (FB, BB)
Ema Smith
(jr) (socc, BB)
Hunter Smith
(sr) (FB, BB)
Scout Smith
(soph) (VB, BB)
Cameron Toomey-Stout
(sr) (FB, BB)
James Vidoni
(sr) (FB, BB)
Allison Wenzel
(sr) (VB, BB)
Genna Wright
(frosh) (socc, BB)
Sarah Wright
(jr) (socc, BB)
Tia Wurzrainer
(soph) (socc, BB)

That breaks down to four freshmen, eight sophomores, eight juniors and nine seniors. 15 girls and 14 boys.

Four of those 12th graders — Wenzel, Downes, Toomey-Stout and Hunter Smith — can stick the landing on not just being three-sport athletes, but going a perfect 12-for-12 during their high school days.

If they do, the quartet would beat the last two years combined, when Jared Helmstadter (2015-2016), Tiffany Briscoe (2016-2017) and Lauren Grove (2016-2017) pulled off the perfecto.

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(Amy King photo)

   Tiffany Briscoe (left) and Lauren Grove both played a sport in all 12 seasons of their high school career. (Amy King photo)

The three-sport athlete is not dead.

In the five years Coupeville Sports has existed, the number of Wolves upholding the old-school tradition of playing something every season has fluctuated.

And this year, that number is trending upwards.

One week into spring sports practices, it appears 23 CHS students — 13 girls and 10 boys — will pull off the feat in 2016-2017.

That’s a nice bounce from last year, when only 17 reached the mark.

It also stops a downward spiral.

After 18 athletes hit the mark in 2012-2013, we hit a high-water mark of 23 in ’13-’14.

But then the numbers started to slip, from 20 in ’14-’15 to last year’s low of 17.

Now, we’ve rebounded to tie our best mark.

Why the increase this year?

In two words, fresh blood, as 10 freshmen (five girls, five boys) took advantage of all of their opportunities.

In fact, the frosh nipped the juniors, who fielded seven iron men/women, while the sophomores had four and the seniors just a piddly two.

But those two seniors, Lauren Grove and Tiffany Briscoe, are true believers, having played a sport in all 12 seasons of their high school careers.

That tops last year, when just one ’16 grad, Jared Helmstadter, achieved the perfecto.

Barring injury or distractions, we could have as many as four athletes pull off a 12-for-12 run in ’18, as juniors Lauren Rose, Allison Wenzel, Cameron Toomey-Stout and Hunter Smith are flawless to this point at 9-for-9.

Why does any of this matter?

For a lot of reasons, with the first being the simple fact Coupeville is a small school, even by 1A standards, and needs bodies in uniforms.

Also, the age of specialization is a crock, unless you’re in the top .001% of your sport nationally (and no one in Cow Town fits that bill these days).

College coaches repeatedly say the same thing — they want athletes who have played more than one sport. You may have a specialty, or a favorite, but try pushing yourself.

The proof is right before our eyes.

When we look at CHS grads who have gone on to successfully play college sports in recent years, whether it’s Tyler King at U-Dub, Kyle King at Oklahoma, Makana Stone at Whitman or Ben Etzell at Saint John’s, one fact remains — they all played 2-3 sports every year in high school.

Whether you want to move on to the next level or high school is the end of the road for you athletically, push yourself. Try something new.

It’s good for the school. It’s better for you.

3-sport athletes in 2016-2017:

Tiffany Briscoe – senior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Hunter Downes – junior (football, basketball, track)
Mikayla Elfrank – junior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Lauren Grove – senior (soccer, basketball, track)
Mason Grove – freshman (tennis, basketball, soccer)
Elliott Johnson – freshman (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Gavin Knoblich – freshman (football, basketball, baseball)
Nicole Lester – sophomore (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Joey Lippo – junior (tennis, basketball, baseball)
Emma Mathusek  – freshman (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Avalon Renninger – freshman (soccer, basketball, tennis)
Lindsey Roberts – sophomore (soccer, basketball, track)
Lauren Rose – junior (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Ema Smith – sophomore (soccer, basketball, track)
Hunter Smith – junior (football, basketball, baseball)
Scout Smith – freshman (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Cameron Toomey-Stout – junior (football, basketball, track)
Maya Toomey-Stout – freshman (volleyball, basketball, track)
Sean Toomey-Stout – freshman (football, basketball, track)
Ulrik Wells – freshman (football, basketball, baseball)
Allison Wenzel – junior (volleyball, basketball, track)
Sarah Wright – sophomore (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Tia Wurzrainer – freshman (soccer, basketball, tennis)

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Tiffany Briscoe is one of two Wolf seniors who have a shot at playing a full 12 sports during their high school career. (John Fisken photo)

   Tiffany Briscoe is one of two Wolf seniors who have a shot at playing a full 12 sports during their high school career. (John Fisken photos)

Lauren Grove

Lauren Grove is the other one.

It is the most exclusive club in Wolf sports.

Over the past four years (which is the run of Coupeville Sports, from Aug. 16, 2012 to today) 48 Coupeville High School athletes have made the ultimate commitment and played three sports in the same school year.

At smaller schools like CHS, where bodies on the bench mean so much, that’s invaluable.

Those young men and women have had to balance schoolwork, staying healthy and a life lived on buses and ferries.

Plus, they had to embrace basketball, since that’s the only sport the Wolves play in the winter.

Why do I bring this up now?

Because, as we prepare to head into a new school year, I’m challenging athletes, from green freshmen to grizzled seniors, to join the movement.

We live in an age of specialization, even while nearly every study proves most athletes getting college attention are the ones who are NOT limiting themselves to one sport.

If you’re 15 and already on a national-level team (which is NO ONE in Coupeville), maybe it makes sense to hone your skills in your chosen sport.

Otherwise, the benefits of playing multiple sports are numerous, both for the individual and their teams.

Last year, though, only 17 Wolves were three-sport athletes, the lowest total in the history of this blog.

The numbers were down from a high of 23 two years before, and not headed in the right direction.

Jared Helmstadter was the only Class of 2016 athlete who played a full 12 sports in his high school career, but there are two Wolves (Tiffany Briscoe and Lauren Grove) who are 9-for-9 entering their senior campaigns this year.

High school is your chance to dabble in multiple sports, to find which ones you like, to build as many memories as possible.

Tyler and Kyle King are the only CHS grads to receive D-1 athletic scholarships in recent memory, and while running was obviously their claim to fame, they didn’t limit themselves.

Stints as basketball and football players meshed with cross country and track and made them more complete athletes, more complete teammates.

Take a chance.

If you’re a freshman, now is a golden opportunity, especially for guys, where the number of projected returning basketball players (varsity and JV combined) can be counted on less than two full hands.

Seize the moment. Embrace the dream. Suck it up, butter cup, and add your name to the list below.

CHS athletes who played three sports in one school year between 2012-2016, with the number of times they achieved the feat:

McKayla Bailey – 2
McKenzie Bailey – 3
Kyla Briscoe – 2
Tiffany Briscoe – 3
Aura Corredor – 1
Emily Coulter – 1
Aaron Curtin – 2
Beauman Davis – 1
Hunter Downes – 1
Gabe Eck – 1
Ty Eck – 1
Miranda Engle – 1
Ben Etzell – 2
Jordan Ford – 1
Lauren Grove – 3
Hailey Hammer – 3
Jared Helmstadter – 4
Lindsey Laxton – 1
Nicole Lester – 1
Joey Lippo – 1
Oscar Liquidano – 2
Dalton Martin – 2
Samantha Martin – 1
Breeanna Messner – 2
Mattea Miller – 1
Grey Rische – 1
Carson Risner – 1
Lindsey Roberts – 1
Lauren Rose – 2
Carlie Rosenkrance – 1
Brian Shank – 1
Matt Shank – 1
CJ Smith – 1
Hunter Smith – 2
Ethan Spark – 1
Makana Stone – 2
Madeline Strasburg – 2
Nick Streubel – 2
Cameron Toomey-Stout – 2
Caleb Valko – 1
Isaac Vargas – 1
James Vidoni – 2
Monica Vidoni – 3
Bessie Walstad – 1
Joel Walstad – 2
Allison Wenzel – 2
Sarah Wright – 1
Gabe Wynn – 2

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Jared Helmstadter, the only Class of 2016 athlete to play a sport in all 12 seasons of his prep career. (John Fisken photos)

   Jared Helmstadter, the only CHS Class of 2016 athlete to play a sport in all 12 seasons of his prep career. (John Fisken photos)

Wolf three-sport athletes

   Row 1 (l to r): Tiffany Briscoe, Lindsey Laxton, Gabe Eck, Nicole Lester. Row 2: Hunter Smith, Allison Wenzel, Lindsey Roberts, Ty Eck. Row 3: Lauren Grove, Cameron Toomey-Stout, Jordan Ford, Kyla Briscoe. Row 4: Hunter Downes, Lauren Rose, Sarah Wright, James Vidoni.

It takes dedication to be a three-sport athlete in high school, and a little luck.

Injuries, drivers ed, club sports, specialization, an unwillingness to play basketball (the only winter sport Coupeville High School offers) — there are a lot of things which can keep the modern athlete from living out what used to be routine.

So, we want to take a moment to honor the 17 Wolves (nine girls, eight boys) who kept the flame lit in 2015-2016.

Cause they may be a dying breed.

Of the four years Coupeville Sports has existed, that number is the smallest we’ve seen.

After we had 18 in 2012-2013, we topped out at 23 the next year, then slid to 20 and now 17.

But, maybe we’re jumping too fast to conclusions, because the core of the three-sport athlete group is young and appears to be deeply committed.

There are six freshmen and seven sophomores on the list.

Also, if you take the 9th graders out of the equation, nine of the 11 are repeat three-sport athletes.

Only two are seniors, which ties ’12-’13 and ’13-’14, while being down from a high of five 12th graders who went out strongly last year.

Jared Helmstadter exits on top, the only member of the Class of 2016 to have played a sport in all 12 seasons of his high school career.

Meanwhile, fellow senior Jordan Ford, having just arrived on the scene, went 3-for-3 in his one year at CHS.

The complete (I believe) list of Wolf three-sport athletes in 2015-2016:

*R* = repeated from 2014-2015

Kyla Briscoe (volleyball, basketball, track) *R*
Tiffany Briscoe (volleyball, basketball, softball) *R*
Hunter Downes (football, basketball, track)
Gabe Eck (football, basketball, track)
Ty Eck (football, basketball, baseball)
Jordan Ford (football, basketball, track)
Lauren Grove (soccer, basketball, track) *R*
Jared Helmstadter (tennis, basketball, track) *R*
Lindsey Laxton (soccer, basketball, softball)
Nicole Lester (volleyball, basketball, softball)
Lindsey Roberts (soccer, basketball, track)
Lauren Rose (volleyball, basketball, softball) *R*
Hunter Smith (football, basketball, baseball) *R*
Cameron Toomey-Stout (football, basketball, baseball) *R*
James Vidoni (football, basketball, baseball) *R*
Allison Wenzel (volleyball, basketball, track) *R*
Sarah Wright (volleyball, basketball, softball)

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