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Posts Tagged ‘track and field’

Jakobi Baumann flies over the hurdles during a track meet last spring. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

The first time I met Jakobi Baumann, he was a young kid hanging out in the old, cruddy wood shack masquerading as the press box at Mickey Clark Field.

Over the course of a high school soccer game, he ran the scoreboard and we talked a bit as I scribbled a few notes about a game that was playing out to a less-than-thrilling tie.

Jakobi was smart, that was already obvious, but he was also funny and well-spoken.

This was a guy going places, and not just because his dad, Duane, ran the school.

My snap judgement that day was a simple one.

One day, I would probably still be occupied with slapping attack bees with my notebook (the old press box was a death trap…), trying to figure out how to make a scoreless stalemate sound halfway exciting.

Meanwhile, the young Mr. Baumann would be out in the world, impressing people of prestige and power.

And lo and behold, I was right.

Maybe not about the bees, as the school’s current press box — a huge improvement — has so far shielded my tender vittles from any kamikaze insects.

But about Jakobi hitting grand heights? I was dead on about that.

As he and twin brother Jaschon wound their way through their years at CHS, both were top-notch students, athletes, and people.

With no disrespect meant to Schon, who is off to study at the U-Dub, this article is about Kobi, though.

As he heads to Mexico to begin a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we want to send him on his way by recognizing everything he accomplished during his time in Cow Town.

So, we’re inducting Jakobi Baumann into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, honoring him for being a stellar tennis and track and field performer, as well as a standout in every other activity he tackled, from band to drama to Science Olympiad.

Baumann and fellow Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Famer Allison Wenzel could play a mean duet.

And, for being a really solid dude, a guy who was supportive of his teammates and classmates, and did it all with a genuine sense of class.

After this, while the real Baumann will be South of the border for awhile, he will also live on under the Legends tab at the top of the blog.

It’s a position he earned through hard work.

On the tennis court, Baumann rose from a middle-of-the-pack player in his early days to being solidly The Man, anchoring the lineup at #1 singles for the Wolves.

As he grew taller and more sure of himself, his power increased, his willingness to take the challenge directly at rival players revved up, and the wins came along with his growth as a player and person.

While his shot-making skills were strong, Baumann set himself apart from others by refusing to give in, regardless of the score.

Intensity, thy name is Jakobi.

Time and again, he fought back from deficits, pushed his rivals deep into matches, and never slowed down when chasing balls which seemed long gone.

Watching Jakobi play, it reminded me of a kid named Sonny Jelvik, who was on the Tumwater High School team when I played my own three years of high school tennis.

Time and again, I would pound shots against him in practice which had “winner” stamped on the ball (I thought), only to see Sonny run down the ball at the last second and flick it back into play.

It was frustrating beyond all belief, and made for long afternoons on the court, as we slugged away at each other for hours. But it made me better, something I see now.

Like Jelvik, Baumann had no off button, and his desire to win was matched by few.

That carried over to his time in the world of track and field, where he made it to bi-districts, a step away from the state meet, in three events as a senior.

Baumann put in a great deal of time as a distance runner, and was one of the few brave souls among the current crop of Wolf boys to attack the hurdles with great glee.

If we go back through eighth grade, he tried his hand at nearly everything, competing in 13 events during his time as a track star.

That he found the time to do two sports, when he was also occupied with so many academic activities as well, is pretty amazing.

While this is called Coupeville Sports, we have to take a second to note his single greatest accomplishment might have come in the world of music, where Baumann made the trombone thrill as he advanced to the state championships.

But, whether he was lettin’ loose with sweet sounds, flying over the hurdles, long legs churning, blinding people with science, or just goofing around with friends, he was always the real deal.

Jakobi was (and is) a genuinely nice guy, smart, witty, willing to stand up for what he believes in, but also able to do it with kindness for all.

He will go far in life, of that there is no doubt. More serious, highly-accredited Hall of Fames will be in play one day.

The kid with the jokes in the broken-down press box will be a man who makes the world a better place.

When Jakobi receives other honors, when the stories written about him land in bigger outlets than my blog, it will be really easy to be happy for him and his family.

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Coupeville’s Tony Killgo, a two-sport star in the ’80s, lives with wife Karen in Hawaii. (Photos courtesy Killgo)

Killgo hard at work as an underwater welder.

Thirty-three years after graduation and still a CHS record-holder.

He’s gone, but far from forgotten.

Tony Killgo calls Hawaii home these days, but the Coupeville High School grad still looms large on the school’s track and field record board, sharing in one of the longest-standing records in program history.

During his senior season in 1986, the standout two-sport athlete went out with a bang, teaming up with Jay Roberts, Rick Alexander, and Bill Carstensen to break the boys 4 x 100 record.

After claiming 3rd at the state meet in the event, the pack broke up and went their separate ways. But the record they left behind has lingered, remaining untouched now for 33 years.

Only Natasha Bamberger’s marks in the 1600 and 3200, set in 1984, have endured longer on the Wolf record board.

Three-plus decades later, the memories of that dream season remain vibrant for Killgo.

“I received four letters in football and track, as well as individual awards in both track and football,” he said. “But I’d have to say if there was a year that stuck out, it would most definitely be the year our relay team captured lightning in a baton.

“It was a great moment to be a part of,” Killgo added. “Our friendships and camaraderie were in perfect sync for our relay team.

“I have to say I’m very proud to be a part of that magic us four got to experience; I will always cherish that time and our memories.”

While track is where his legend has lingered the longest, it was the gridiron that probably captivated Killgo the most.

“I’d have to say football was my favorite sport,” he said. “And I don’t know that I necessarily have favorite games as much as I have memorable plays, and moments of teammates making the impossible, possible, with great plays I remember to this day.”

The player who looms largest for Killgo is his older brother, Paul, another Wolf legend whose exploits are still discussed.

“Although we didn’t run together that year, or play football that year together, I always strived and yearned to be as good as him in both sports,” Tony Killgo said. “Those who remember seeing him play in both track and football will attest he was something to watch.

“And just knowing that he was watching me, pushed me to my limits to be the best I could, not just in school, not just in sports, but in life.”

Their father also “never missed a game or a track meet,” something which has always stayed with Killgo.

It was that kind of support, both from his own family, and from the families of other CHS athletes and students, which made playing in Coupeville special.

“The memories I remember the most were before the games and the meets, the moms and the dads of the participants getting together and enjoying the upcoming meet or game,” Killgo said.

“Parents like Diane Bailey and the Marti family and Mr. Aparicio, as well as one of my favorites, Mr. Ford.”

Supporting both their own children and the offspring of their neighbors made for a tight-knit community.

“You see, those are the memories I remember — bringing our families, loved ones, moms and dads together on one night or one special occasion,” Killgo said. “We brought them together to enjoy each other’s company and camaraderie as well.

“A moment where they could smile, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company and forget about the complexities of life, like bills, obligations, and family stresses,” he added. “I’d have to say these are the memories I remember the most — bringing a community together.”

While he no longer sees most of his high school mates on a regular basis, Killgo hopes that when his former teammates and fans think about him, they do so with a smile.

“I’d like to hope they remember me as somebody who had good school spirit,” he said. “And someone who always tried to represent his family and community the best he knew how.”

As he’s traveled through life after high school, Killgo has used many of the lessons he learned as a teenage athlete in his adult life.

That’s something he hopes the current generation of Wolf sports stars embraces.

“I learned to win with grace, but, most importantly, how to lose with grace,” Killgo said. “Winning and losing in life is a special thing to learn from.

“You see, at that time we didn’t have participation trophies, you either sank or swam, won or lost.

“Playing both football and track taught me the importance of teamwork and it’s reflected in my business today,” he added. “I don’t have any employees, I only have coworkers, as we are all a team pushing towards the same goal.”

These days, Killgo is a certified commercial diver specializing in underwater demolitions and welding, and his business takes him bouncing between the Hawaiian islands.

He and wife Karen worked together, but her career came to an unexpected end when she was injured and contracted a rare, non-contagious disease – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (CRPS/RSD).

There are estimates of 50,000 new cases each year in the United States, with those affected experiencing intense pain in limbs, hands, and feet, as well as changes in skin color, temperature, and loss of movement or function.

Pain is constant for most with the syndrome, and doctors worldwide have been unable so far to solve the cause of CRPS/RSD.

As the couple have dealt with the disease, they have tried to use what they’ve learned in a positive manner.

“My wife’s constant battle kind of puts life in perspective,” Killgo said. “To have sympathy and help others when we can.”

With a new school year about to star, Coupeville High School’s athletic fields and gyms will be full of Wolf athletes, some seasoned, some making their debuts in the red and black.

However their prep careers play out, Killgo hopes that everyone in a CHS uniform takes every moment in, that they embrace the chance to play, and set themselves up to look back with as much fondness as he now does.

“My only advice to the next crop of athletes and students is to just enjoy life,” he said. “Enjoy your friendships and camaraderie, but most of all your family and your community.

“Because, when you’re gone those are the things you remember the most,” Killgo added. “Not awards, not teams, but the small moments that make you who you are later, down-the-line in life.”

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Allison Wenzel is the only CHS athlete in at least a decade-plus to make it to state in three separate sports. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

A master of many instruments, she also went to the state championships in music.

“Let the bodies (and the braids) hit the floor!!”

Allison Wenzel can do everything.

And, if not, give her a day or two and she’ll master whatever new task you try and throw her way.

A Japanese-born American bad ass, Allison combines blistering talent with a serene spirit.

She’s one of the most genuinely kind people you will meet.

Unless you’re trying to take a basketball away from her, then she will get all up in your business and leave you to bleed out in an alleyway.

Metaphorically.

Or, possibly for real…

During her days at Coupeville High School, Wenzel, a 2018 grad, was a non-stop whirlwind.

She was one of four students in her class to play a sport in every season of her prep career, putting in four campaigns apiece in volleyball, basketball, and track and field.

A role player who sacrificed for the team, she had her greatest achievement at the very end of her high school career.

Standing alone after so many years of playing for others, Wenzel advanced to the state track and field championships in the discus.

Once in Cheney, she let fly with the best throw of her career in her swan song, ripping off a PR and claiming 9th place in all of 1A.

That solo run in the spotlight allowed Wenzel to achieve something very few Wolves have, reaching the state tourney in three separate sports.

She’s the only Coupeville athlete to pull off the trifecta in the last decade-plus.

You’d have to go back to the early 2000’s, when Wolf girls basketball and volleyball squads went to state on a regular basis, to find a time when there might possibly be another three-timer.

In recent years there have been a number of talented Coupeville female athletes who made it to state in two sports.

Makana Stone. Skyler Lawrence. Emma Smith. Maya Toomey-Stout. Lindsey Roberts. Sarah Wright. Kyla Briscoe. Emma Mathusek. Payton Aparicio. Chelsea Prescott. Lauren Rose. Scout Smith. Lauren Grove.

Ferociously successful, one and all, but the needle stopped at two, and hasn’t made it to three for any of them.

Yet…

Four of those Wolf girls still have at least a school year left in their careers, so hope lives.

Coupeville boys? Yeah … there’s been a bit of a dry spell.

We’re talking the late ’80s as the last time there’s the possibility of finding a male Wolf who went to state in three sports.

Chad Gale, certainly, and, after that, we’d need to do some more research.

Today, though, we know Wenzel stands at the top of the peak for recent athletes, alone and untouched.

Chalk it up to talent, commitment, and drive.

Others skipped seasons, took time off, stayed on the sidelines.

Not Wenzel.

As a sophomore, she was on the girls basketball team which squared off with perennial powerhouse Cashmere, falling just short of making it to the final eight.

Then, as a senior, she went East with the volleyball squad, where the Wolves tangled with heavy hitters Castle Rock and Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), before capping things during track season.

Actually, Wenzel made it to state four times, as she also was the queen of the music set.

A master of many instruments, she went to the big dance as a musician, qualifying both as a solo artist (interpreting Mozart on the French Horn) and as part of a duo with Jakobi Baumann.

So, it comes as little surprise that the effortlessly-talented Wenzel is currently pursuing studies in musical education at Central Washington University, wowing a whole new crowd.

For her hustle on the court, her displays of power in the throwing arena, and her artful musical noodlings, plus her kindness, her huge heart, and her love of Star Wars (bonus points!), it’s time to acknowledge all she accomplished, and all that is yet to come.

Allison Wenzel is a bright star streaking across the night sky, one who lights up everything in her path and inspires all of us down here on planet Earth.

Putting her in the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame, which we do today, is something she richly deserves.

After this, you’ll find her up at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

Out in the real world?

She’ll be winning real awards left and right, quietly being awesome, cause she couldn’t be anything else.

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Helen Strelow flies through the air while competing in the long jump. (Morgan White photo)

Helen Strelow couldn’t be stopped.

As she neared the end of her middle school days this spring, she nailed PR’s in two of her three events at the Cascade League Track and Field Championships.

Strelow saved her best performances in the 800 and long jump for that final meet, while also performing strongly in the discus.

Overall, she prospered under pressure the way every coach hopes their athletes will respond on the big stage.

Now, buoyed by that sweet swan song, she’s off to the next level.

Life as a freshman student/athlete at Coupeville High School awaits her this fall, and Strelow plans to keep running for team glory and personal accomplishment.

She’ll kick off a new school season with cross country, then return to track and field in the spring, keeping alive her status as a dual-threat.

Strelow was a strong competitor on a CMS cross country squad which helped bring the sport back to Coupeville after a two-decade absence, and she and the sport immediately meshed.

“I really enjoy cross country, because everyone is so nice and happy,” she said. “I enjoy running. It makes me happy, reduces stress, and I enjoy being part of a team.

“My parents encouraged me to join cross country and supported me,” she added. “Coach (Elizabeth) Bitting pushes me to run faster, as did my team.”

When she’s not out on the trails or hanging out at the track oval, Strelow can often be found creating new masterpieces in a variety of art forms.

“I am primarily interested in the arts,” she said. “I like drawing, building, reading/writing, and listening/playing music.

“I spend my time experimenting with the arts I love.”

Strelow also enjoys spending time with family, and hails Mary Poppins, Man from U.N.C.L.E, and John Wayne’s Hatari! as her favorite movies.

As she prepares for the move from middle school to high school, she’s been working on fine-tuning her skills. That includes attending the recent Falcon Running Camp at Fort Casey.

“I think one of my strengths is being able to realize what I have done wrong or right and how to make corrections,” Strelow said. “I need to work on pacing myself better.

“I would like to get higher placings and reach my full potential as an athlete.”

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Coupeville track stars Jacob Smith (left) and Danny Conlisk made sure the whole state learned their names. (Dawnelle Conlisk photo)

Sometimes, I can be a real idiot.

But, sometimes, my being a real idiot actually works out in the end. Hopefully.

As I induct people into the Coupeville Sports Hall of Fame, the biggest stumbling block is I’m a one-man crew, in charge of nominating, voting (there are some fierce battles…), and writing the stories.

Which is my way of sort of explaining why sometimes a slam-dunk inductee doesn’t go in as quickly as they should.

Cause I’m an idiot, I get busy with other stuff, and I completely space on things.

A year ago, when he graduated from Coupeville High School after compiling one of the best track and field careers in school history, Jacob Smith should have been added to my lil’ digital hall o’ wonders.

Like immediately, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200.

So, imagine my surprise this morning when I was scanning the list of inductees, and realized, to my growing horror, that he wasn’t there.

But, my complete and utter failure sort of works out, because now, when I induct him today, he can go in along with his running mate, Danny Conlisk, in a two-for-one special.

After this, you’ll find both of them at the top of the blog, under the Legends tab.

It’s appropriate they go in together, because the duo pushed each other on the oval, and exhibited many of the same qualities during their times in a Wolf uniform.

They were both fast to begin, but worked relentlessly, together and apart, to rise to new heights.

Calm, easy-going, low-key, quiet leaders, they let their fleet feet do the talking for them, and made the world at large stand up and notice.

Coupeville, a cow town on a rock in the middle of the water up in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t always get the same respect as King’s or Lynden Christian or a million other “legacy” schools do.

The Wolves have to earn it, and from Kyle and Tyler King to Makana Stone and on to Smith and Conlisk, track and field has been the one arena where other schools and fan bases have had to accept that CHS can get all up in their business.

And man, did Jacob and Danny make them sit up and take notice.

The duo combined to win 12 state meet medals – six apiece – shattered school records left and right, and were as dynamic on the oval as any pair in Wolf track history.

Smith is one of just two CHS athletes to win four medals at the same state meet, doing so during his senior season.

Finishing 2nd in both the 100 and 200, he also added a leg on 4 x 100 (7th) and 4 x 400 (5th) relay teams which battled down to the wire.

Toss in a 4th in the 200 as a sophomore, and a 3rd in the same event as a junior, and, despite having the most-common last name in America, everyone knew his name down in Cheney by the time he was finished.

An explosive runner who chased down rivals as mom Deb out-shouted the rooting sections of entire schools by herself, Jacob made every race a must-see moment.

His fellow inductee, to be honest, was not someone I originally would have seen going into the Hall o’ Fame.

I have vague memories of Conlisk competing in middle school – a quiet, skinny kid loping around the track.

Did I think he would one day be a two-time state champion, hold school records in the 100, 200, and 400, and qualify for the national Junior Olympics twice?

Not a chance.

Cause I’m an idiot. Or at least a really-bad talent scout.

Once Danny found his groove, though, he became the ultimate make-good story.

What we couldn’t see, at least at first, was how powerful his work ethic was going to be, and how huge his heart was.

Whether running cross country or track, Conlisk just kept getting better and better, ending his prep career by breaking an eight-year state title dry spell for CHS.

This spring, he roared to wins in the 200 and 400 at the 1A state meet, and finished half a step from making it three titles in three races, finishing 2nd in the 100.

It was the first time since 2010 that a Wolf had stood atop the podium, with Conlisk becoming just the ninth individual CHS athlete in 119 years to earn the title of state champ.

Toss in two medals from his junior season — a 2nd in the 400 and a 5th in the 4 x 400 — and one more from his sophomore campaign (5th in the 400), and he and Smith finish tied with Natasha Bamberger and Chad Gale for the fifth-most state meet medals in school history.

But while the medals stand as a testament to their achievement, both Jacob and Danny will be remembered for far more than their hardware.

They are proof, to every current and future Wolf, that hard work and utter commitment can carry you to the mountain top, and that once there, you don’t have to back down just because someone else has a fancy uniform from a “name” school.

You can rep Coupeville and be the best, and Smith and Conlisk are living proof of that.

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