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After the pandemic stole away the 2020 season, Catherine Lhamon is one of the few Coupeville High School track stars with prior experience. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

From young guns to old pros.

Thanks to the pandemic, the last time Coupeville High School track and field athletes competed was nearly two years ago.

Way back on May 25, 2019, as the state tournament wrapped up, Ja’Kenya Hoskins and Logan Martin were freshmen.

Now, after a lost spring and a long wait, the duo are juniors and have gone from supporting crew to frontline stars.

Hoskins is the only active Wolf track athlete to have a state meet medal — she was part of a 4 x 200 relay squad which finished 3rd in Cheney in ’19.

Now, with all of her former relay mates having graduated, she’s likely to be running sprints and doing jumps, said longtime CHS track guru Randy King.

Ja’Kenya is back and eager to begin competing again!”

Martin, who spent many of the 650 days between track seasons working on his skills, is primed to have a breakout as a thrower.

Older brother Dalton, who won four state meet medals during his CHS days, holds the school discus record.

Now lil’ bro is coming for big bro’s best marks.

Logan has worked both last spring and this fall and winter to improve his throws, and looks destined to do extremely well,” King said.

“The discus is jumping out of his hand and he appears to have mastered a new technique in the shot put,” he added. “I expect his discus throws to have improved by over 30 feet since his freshman year.”

Logan Martin is coming for all of older brother Dalton’s throwing records.

Hoskins and Martin lead a squad which has 24 athletes as it preps for its debut in the Northwest 2B/1B League.

In this pared-down season, Coupeville is set to host the season-opening meet March 4, and the season-closing rumble April 3.

Other returning athletes include Megan Behan and Aurora Cernick in the throwing events, and cross country state meet vet Catherine Lhamon in the distance races.

On the boys side of things, the move from 1A to 2B pushes soccer from spring to fall, allowing Wolf booters to join the track squad.

That has netted the squad at least three cross country-hardened runners in Sam Wynn, Mitchell Hall, and Aiden Wilson.

“We are excited to have them out,” King said. “Kudos to Coach (Elizabeth) Bitting and Coach (Jon) Gabelein for their work with our distance runners this school year.

“They have been training for quite a while and are hitting the track season “in stride”!”

With the missed season, a fair amount of the team is made up of newcomers, some of whom intended to compete last spring before COVID shut down Washington state schools.

On the girls side, Maylin Steele (jumps and javelin), Erica McGrath (javelin), Camryn Clark (hurdles and sprints), and Cristine McGrath (jumps and hurdles) are all brand new to high school track.

The most-promising youngster may be basketball brawler Carolyn Lhamon, a sophomore who was a top-notch track performer in middle school.

Carolyn looks great in the shot put for us, and can be counted on to give a gutsy performance in the 400-meter run,” King said.

Freshman Tate Wyman and Josh Guay, sophomore Dominic Coffman, Alex Murdy, and Reiley Araceley, and senior Ben Smith are all expected to have impact for the boys team, as well.

During this pandemic spring, Coupeville will compete against league mates, and won’t have a chance to attend any invitationals or large meets as in years past.

That means the Wolves will mainly vie with La Conner, Concrete, Mount Vernon Christian, and Friday Harbor.

Darrington doesn’t field a track team, while Orcas Island is skipping spring sports and waiting until its students are back in class before competing.

MVC track, especially on the boys side of things, is a state-title-winning powerhouse in 1B, while La Conner is always tough.

But for King, who retired as a teacher last year but stayed on as the school’s longest-tenured coach, the chance to get back out to the track oval is about what his athletes can accomplish, not who they have to face.

“They have been a fun group to work with!,” he said. “Our team is young, so it will be great to see how our season develops.”

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Softball sluggers (l to r) Izzy Wells, Audrianna Shaw, and Coral Caveness are heading back to the diamond. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It’s happening.

Barring any further twists or turns in the Age of Coronavirus, Coupeville High School athletes begin spring sports this coming Monday, February 22.

The first games in a shortened season are set to begin March 4, with play ending April 3.

The last time a CHS sports team competed was Feb. 11, 2020, when the Wolf girls basketball team faced Meridian in a season-ending playoff tilt.

Several weeks later, COVID-19 shut down all Washington state schools, and spring sports were eventually cancelled.

Coupeville, and its new mates in the Northwest 2B/1B League are opening with spring sports, which are all played outdoors, with hopes of then moving to fall (March 29-May 8) and winter (May 3-June 12) seasons.

With the shortened time frame, there is some small overlap with practices for the next season beginning during the last week of the preceding season.

All CHS games will be against league foes, and, in most cases, there won’t be any sort of playoffs this school year.

One early exception to that, however, is track and field, which has a league championship meet scheduled for April 3 in Coupeville.

Looking at the schedule as it sits, Wolf softball has the most games, with 12, followed by baseball (10), girls tennis (6), and track (6).

Baseball and softball both have a pair of doubleheaders, while tennis has just one opponent — Friday Harbor — as none of the other NWL teams field a net squad.

As probably goes without saying at this point, things can and may change.

To stay on top of schedules, check out:

 

School: Calendar – Coupeville School District

League: Northwest 2B/1B Athletics, Northwest 2B/1B Home Page (nw1a2bathletics.com)

 

BASEBALL:

Sat-Mar. 6 — Friday Harbor — (11:00)
Fri-Mar. 12 — La Conner — (DH) — (3:00/4:45)
Tues-Mar. 16 — @ Darrington — (4:00)
Tues-Mar. 23 — @ Orcas Island — (3:00)
Fri-Mar. 26 — Concrete — (4:00)
Tues-Mar. 30 — Mount Vernon Christian — (4:00)
Fri-Apr. 2 — @ Friday Harbor — (DH) — (4:00/5:30)
Sat-Apr. 3 — @ La Conner — (4:00)

 

GIRLS TENNIS:

Sat-Mar. 6 — Friday Harbor — (11:00)
Wed-Mar. 10 — @ Friday Harbor — (4:00)
Wed-Mar. 17 — Friday Harbor — (3:30)
Mon-Mar. 22 — @ Friday Harbor — (4:00)
Fri-Mar. 26 — Friday Harbor — (3:30)
Fri-Apr. 2 — @ Friday Harbor — (4:00)

 

SOFTBALL:

Sat-Mar. 6 — Friday Harbor — (11:00)
Fri-Mar. 12 — La Conner — (DH) — (3:00/4:45)
Sat-Mar. 13 — Orcas Island — (11:30)
Tues-Mar. 16 — @ Darrington — (4:00)
Sat-Mar. 20 — @ Concrete — (TBD)
Tues-Mar. 23 — @ Orcas Island — (DH) — (3:00/4:45)
Fri-Mar. 26 — Concrete — (4:00)
Sat-Mar. 27 — Darrington — (1:00)
Fri-Apr. 2 — @ Friday Harbor — (4:00)
Sat-Apr. 3 — @ La Conner — (4:00)

 

TRACK:

Thur-Mar. 4 — HOME meet — (3:30)
Fri-Mar. 12 — @ Lummi — (3:30)
Thur-Mar. 18 — @ La Conner — (3:30)
Thur-Mar. 25 — @ Mount Vernon Christian — (3:30)
Wed-Mar. 31 — @ La Conner — (3:30)
Sat-Apr. 3 — Northwest 2B/1B League meet @ HOME — (11:30)

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There won’t be any league basketball games for Coupeville Middle School students like Lyla Stuurmans this school year. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

It will likely be a lost year.

While Coupeville High School sports teams continue to work towards a possible return to play during the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears that middle school athletes won’t have the same chances.

CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith announced Wednesday that he and other league officials have agreed to “make the difficult decision to postpone any official league games this year except for a possible track and field season later in the year.”

During a normal school year — which this is certainly not — CMS athletes would also compete in volleyball, girls and boys cross country, girls and boys basketball, and boys soccer.

Smith said there were many factors considered before the decision to cancel was made.

“The spread of our league schools in counties makes it difficult for any consistent plan in creating equitable playing opportunities,” he said.

“We are split into two separate regions and if half can play and others can’t, is that equitable, and we decided it was not.”

With regions across the state in vastly different places in terms of number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, plans to return students to in-person learning are often radically different from school to school.

Add on the crush of schools possibly trying to play shortened high school seasons, and it became too much.

“The differing plans for return to school for our middle school students is widely varied and transporting middle school students to and from practices, let alone games, would fall mainly upon our parents and we didn’t think that was feasible or equitable for all students,” Smith said.

“We were (also) concerned about field/gym/site availability, as well as a real concern about the availability of officials.”

While the news is certainly downbeat, there is some hope, however.

Smith has worked relentlessly to find ways to get his student athletes back in action, taking advantage of the state opening up the ability to practice.

He and the AD’s for the Oak Harbor and South Whidbey school districts are discussing the possibility of creating a three-team local league for the short term.

“It is very early in the planning stages,” Smith said. “Regardless of the outcome of this, I am also going to be working with our middle school coaches and administration to at least provide some intramural opportunities throughout the remainder of the year for our middle school students.”

With Coupeville moving from 1A to 2B this school year, the school is allowed to use CMS 8th graders to fill out high school teams.

But, Smith cautions this would only happen under certain circumstances.

“The short answer is no, we are not unless we need them to help salvage a program,” he said. “The intent of the rule and our philosophy of the league is that we will not bring up 8th grade students just for the sake of bringing them up, or because they are a good athlete.

“We will only bring them up if we don’t have enough high school students to create a team and participate during the season, and that is what we will do this year.”

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Marlene Grasser, seen here with husband Jim, was a district track and field champ in 1987. (Photo courtesy Grasser family)

They were on a mission to reclaim their spot atop the podium.

And they did, in blowout fashion.

Jump back to May 15, 1987, and the Coupeville High School boys track and field team was in Stanwood, intent on winning its third District 1 title in four years.

Champs in ’84 and ’85, the Wolves fell short in ’86 as Friday Harbor claimed the team title.

But ’87 was all about Cow Town once more, as CHS rolled up 123 points, finishing well ahead of its closest competitors, Concrete (90) and Watson-Groen (72).

All in all, a much more comfortable win for the Wolf boys than the Watson-Groen girls, who barely held on to claim a 108-106 battle with Friday Harbor.

Those numbers are scrawled in ink pen across the back of a relatively thick program from that year’s district meet, part of a collection of Coupeville sports memorabilia belonging to Sandy Roberts.

The cover of said program features an animated runner reproduced by the finest dot matrix printer in the land, while inside the program are numerous handwritten notes, including some of the times and finishes.

For someone like myself, who was still back in Tumwater in ’87, leafing through the program gave me something to do while waiting for the power to blink back on after a January wind storm.

And now, with electricity once again rippling through the lines, powering computers and cell phones, I pass on my findings to you.

The district meet brought together 11 “B” schools in ’87, from Coupeville (duh) to Lopez Island and La Conner.

Also included were Anderson Creek, Arlington Christian, Concrete, Friday Harbor, Mount Vernon Christian, Mountlake Christian, Snohomish County Christian, and Watson-Groen Christian.

While four of those schools — Concrete, Friday Harbor, MVC, and La Conner — remain key Coupeville rivals as the Wolves return to the Northwest 2B/1B League this year, a couple of others remain question marks for me.

I’ve never, ever heard of Anderson Creek, and can’t seem to find anything indicating it still exists. Anyone out there have a clue?

Anyways, on the day in question, Coupeville was in fine form, claiming seven titles, including five on the boys side of the ledger.

Chad Gale (110 hurdles and triple jump) and Bill Carstensen (100, 200) were the day’s big winners, each taking two individual firsts while also running a leg on a triumphant relay squad.

The zippy duo were joined by Jay Roberts and Allen Weddell on the fastest 4 x 100 unit in the stadium.

Also standing atop the podium were Tina Barker, tops in the 800, and Marlene Grasser, undisputed queen of the 100 hurdles.

But there were other Wolves competing on that spring day as well, so here’s a look back at what went down almost 34 years ago, at least according to the penciled notes on our program.

 

1987 district meet results:

 

GIRLS:

100 — Robyn Rolain (3rd) 14.02; Karen Bailey (4th) NO TIME LISTED

400 — Rolain — NO PLACE OR TIME LISTED

800 — Tina Barker (1st) NO TIME LISTED

100 Hurdles — Marlene Grasser (1st) 16.8

300 Hurdles — Grasser (2nd) 52.8

Long Jump — Barker (6th) NO DISTANCE LISTED; Bailey — NO PLACE OR DISTANCE LISTED

 

BOYS:

100 — Bill Carstensen (1st) 11.00; Karl Mueller (7th) 12.00

200 — Carstensen (1st) 22.6; Mueller (6th) 24.8

400 — Jay Roberts (3rd) 54.4

800 — Trevor Peterson (4th) 2:15.7; Jeff Sobieski (6th) NO TIME LISTED

1600 — Sobieski (4th) 5:05.00

110 Hurdles — Chad Gale (1st) 15.3; Ed Cook (3rd) 17.7; Tony Ford (4th) 17.9

300 Hurdles — Gale (2nd) 43.4, Cook (4th) 45.3

4 x 100 Relay — Roberts, Gale, Allen Weddell, Carstensen (1st) 45.6

4 x 400 Relay — Roberts, David Ford, Cook, Sobieski (5th) 3:52.00

Shot Put — D. Ford (4th) NO DISTANCE LISTED; Dave Cox and Morgan Roehl — NO PLACE OR DISTANCE LISTED

Discus — Joe Tessaro (2nd) 114-00; D. Ford and Roehl — NO PLACE OR DISTANCE LISTED

Javelin — D. Ford (4th) NO DISTANCE LISTED; Eric Gunter and Tessaro — NO PLACE OR DISTANCE LISTED

Pole Vault — Cook (3rd) NO HEIGHT LISTED; Gunter — NO PLACE OR HEIGHT LISTED

High Jump — T. Ford (5th) NO HEIGHT LISTED

Long Jump — Weddell (5th) NO DISTANCE LISTED; Gale — NO PLACE OR DISTANCE LISTED

Triple Jump — Gale (1st) 40-06; T. Ford (5th) NO DISTANCE LISTED

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Raven (left) and Willow Vick – bright, shining superstars. (Maria Reyes photo)

Kindness matters.

Long after the memories of their high school athletic achievements fade, Willow and Raven Vick will be remembered for the grace they showed others.

Through their schools days in Coupeville, from little tots to whip-smart high school grads, the twins amazed and dazzled.

As they grew up, they each found their own path, forged their own personalities, reached their own goals.

But, together or apart, they have one thing very much in common — the way they treat those around them, in good times and bad.

Willow and Raven benefit from having great parents, and Brian and Maria have much to be proud of when they watch their daughters.

That extends to the community which has helped shape them, and been shaped, in a very positive way, by the duo.

As they have followed their path through Cow Town, the Vick sisters have excelled in the classroom, in the music world, and on the sports field.

Always up for a photo shoot with dad. (Brian Vick photo)

They both played volleyball, finishing their prep careers as part of a highly-successful Wolf team which tied the program record for wins a year ago.

Coupeville started 12-1, won 14 matches in all, and claimed its fourth-straight top-two league finish and 10+ win season.

Along the way, the Wolves benefited from Raven’s crackling serves and Willow’s hustle and heart.

While the Vicks were denied a senior track and field season by the COVID-19 shutdown, they both took advantage of their time at the oval in previous seasons.

Raven celebrates after a successful track meet. (Brian Vick photo)

As a junior, Raven threw the shot put, discus, and javelin, competing in the league championships in all three events, and making it to bi-districts in the latter event.

Willow rounded out what would turn out to be her final track season by vying in the discus and javelin as well, along with performances in the 1600 and long jump.

And, like her sister, she qualified for the North Sound Conference Championships in three events.

Earlier in her track career, Willow, who also played for a Central Whidbey Little League juniors softball squad which went 13-3, made a splash.

As a freshman, she bounded past the competition to claim the title in the high jump at the Olympic League JV Championships.

Willow, ready to crank it. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

So, there’s ribbons, and memories, and moments which mattered to Willow and Raven, and to their family, and to their fans.

Add in all the high points in the classroom and with a musical instrument in hand, and you have a pair of young women who exemplify a lot of really great attributes.

They’re strong, they’re committed, they’re smart, they carry themselves with a sense of grace.

But, and in a world where things are out of sorts and 10,000 different versions of suck, Willow and Raven are kind.

Not because they have to be, but because they want to be.

I have seen it in public, with how they interact with their teammates on the court and around the track oval, and I have seen it in private, while sharing a car with them while driving back from volleyball postseason tournaments.

They are the same serene spirits when people are watching, and when they aren’t, and that goes a long way to why I have been so impressed with the twins.

So today, as the duo jointly celebrate their 19th birthday, I want to give back at least a little to them by inducting them into the Coupeville Sports Hall o’ Fame.

After this, if you pop up to the top of the blog, under the Legends tab, you’ll find them there.

Our Hall of Fame, since it’s picked by one person, has no set rules for who gets through the doors.

Sometimes, selection is for awe-inspiring play and big stats. Other times, it’s for being the absolute best you can be, in whatever way you can be.

Willow and Raven make Coupeville a better place. It’s as simple as that.

Through their actions over the years, the twins have soared as high as any prep athletes I have written about, and I know, without a doubt, their accomplishments in the future will likely be extraordinary.

So, Miss Vick, and Miss Vick, thank you.

Thank you for choosing to reach for greatness, and for always being the best of what Coupeville has to offer.

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