Mountain Lions took competition to a new level in 2013
By Mike Maltais
In a year noteworthy for the individual and team achievements delivered up by athletes and scholars representing the Methow Valley, the outstanding overall acknowledgement has to go to Liberty Bell High School that sent a record nine teams — wrestling, baseball, tennis, softball, track and field, Knowledge Bowl, speech and debate, cross-country and girls’ soccer — to state competition in 2013.
The Liberty Bell varsity wrestlers won the 1B/2B state wrestling championship for the first time in school history and were only the second LBHS team to win a state title. The first was the 1998 squad of varsity cross-country runners. The Mountain Lions team of Justin McMillan, Taylor Woodruff, Milo Holston, Trent Skelton, Emmett Fink, Jacob McMillan, Meritt Fink, Danny Humiston and Dreton Acord so dominated their Mat Classic XXV opponents that the second place team finished 33 points behind the champs.
1st: Trent Skelton, 106 lbs
1st: Justin McMillan, 126 lbs
2nd: Taylor Woodruff, 120 lbs
2nd: Jacob McMillan, 132 lbs
2nd: Emmett Fink, 138 lbs
2nd: Milo Holston, 145 lbs
5th: Meritt Fink, 132 lbs
5th: Dreton Acord, 285 lbs
DNP: Danny Humiston, 113 lbs
A young team of LBHS varsity soccer girls defied the odds to win third place at state by defeating the Adna Pirates, 5-4, at Sumner’s Sunset Stadium on Nov. 23. The Lady Lions sweetened their best state finish ever by also winning the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association 2B academic title for the fifth consecutive year with a cumulative grade point average of 3.907. The Lady Lions defeated Bridgeport, 3-2, to capture the league title and the right to advance to the final four.
Earlier, six players and the coaching staff were recognized for All-League honors: Eighth grader Haley Post, first team defender; freshman Mia Kennedy, first team midfielder; freshman Lauren Fitzmaurice, first team striker; eighth grader Corrine Dietz, second team striker; senior Hannah Hafsos, honorable mention goalkeeper; senior Kathleen Chavey-Reynaud, honorable mention defender; Mike Wilson, Erik Olson and Lucas Budrow, Coaching Staff of the Year.
The Mountain Lions varsity baseball team rode 20 straight season wins to its best-ever fourth-place state finish at Ellensburg on May 25. Led by senior hurler Andrew Ryan, who pitched the school’s only perfect game a year earlier, the young Liberty Bell team made the finals following heart-stopping wins over Riverside Christian, 3-2, at district and Lind-Ritzville-Sprague, 6-4, and Asotin, 9-8, at regionals. At the final four the Mountain Lions lost to eventual state champion DeSales, 13-0, and to Mossyrock, 5-1, in the consolation bracket.
Pitcher of the Year Andrew Ryan and Catcher of the Year Milo Holston led the list of nine Mountain Lion baseball players named to the All-League teams last May. Juniors Chase Kurtz (right field), David Dinsmore III (first base), Morgan Palm (center field) and eighth grader Derek Alumbaugh (left field) received First Team honors. Sophomores Riley Calvert (second base) and Chip Jones (shortstop) were nominated to the Second Team. Eighth grade third baseman Cole Darwood was an Honorable Mention.
Track and field
Junior long distance runner Liam Daily’s second place in the 800-meter run and fourth in the 3,200 meters led a school record 16 Liberty Bell varsity track and field athletes who competed at the state championships in Cheney on May 24-25. After three-peating as district champions, several Mountain Lions moved up in the LBHS record book with their state results. They included the fifth-place 4×400 relay team of Justin McMillan, Kelsey Jensen, Cesar Dominguez and Daily; Dominguez in the 400 meters; Ben Klemmeck in the 3,200 meters; and Claire Waichler in the 3,200 meters.
Liberty Bell’s varsity softball girls captured the CW2B North league title and made it to the state playoffs in Yakima on May 25 where Northwest Christian and Napavine eliminated the Lady Lions. The young LBHS lineup lost only one senior to graduation and have nine veterans to lead the team into the 2014 season.
The coach and six girls earned All-League honors including Pitcher of the Year Kelsey Baldwin and Catcher of the Year Baylee Canedo. Korrie Perryman and Cierra Ebbert were voted to the First Team. Kuirstin Pilkinton and Lily Darwood made Second Team. Lee Pilkinton was named Coach of the Year.
Manuel and Carlos Perez earned a trip to the state playoffs in Yakima last May on the heels of respective first- and fourth-place finishes in district singles competition. Senior Manuel, undefeated in league play and a three-time state veteran, just missed reaching the state final four. He defeated opponents from St. George and Zillah but lost to Charles Wright Academy and LaSalle to place seventh at state. Consecutive losses to LaSalle and St. George eliminated junior Carlos from a medal round.
Senior Liam Daily and sophomore Ben Klemmeck finished the 5,000 meters in sixth and seventh respectively to lead the Liberty Bell cross-country team to fifth place at the WIAA 1B/2B state championships in Pasco last November. It was the best finish for a Mountain Lions XC team since 2001 when LBHS runners placed second at state for the second consecutive year. Liberty Bell’s 1998 XC runners were the first varsity team to win a state championship for the school.
Along with Daily and
Klemmeck, the 2013 XC team was comprised of Willy
Duguay, Morgan Ott, Josiah
Klemmeck, Erik Ellis and Carter Dornfeld. The XC team also won the CWB league championship for the fourth straight year.
The Liberty Bell Knowledge Bowl Team crowned its first regional title since 2009 and sixth consecutive appearance at the 1B/2B state championships in Arlington with a 12th-place finish last March. The six seniors who comprised the 2012-13 state team — Tim Lewis, Rachel Layne, Jacqueline O’Keefe, Tom Zbyszewski and
Duncan Hanron — graduated last June.
Speech and debate
In only its third year of existence, the Liberty Bell speech and debate team was one of 31 to qualify for the state championships held at the University of Puget Sound last March. Led by senior captain Nick Saunders, 13 LBHS students competed against opponents representing 3A and 4A schools. Junior Kathleen Chavey-Reynaud finished fourth in oratory and seventh in extemporaneous speaking.
The Liberty Bell boys’ basketball team won the CW2B North league championship but failed in its bid to make the state quarterfinals in Spokane after losing to the Wahkiakum Mules, 63-36, in regional competition at Sunnyside last February.
The Liberty Bell High School varsity football team ended a 4-2 winning season with 10 players voted to the All-League First, Second and Honorable Mention teams.
Offensive First Team: Chip Jones, quarterback; Austin Watson, running back; Milo Holston, receiver; Cesar Dominguez, offensive line. Offensive Second Team: Emmett Fink, running back; Chase Kurtz, receiver; Colby Smith, offensive line; Jorge Lara, kicker. Defensive First Team: Cesar Dominguez, Most Valuable Player and linebacker; Milo Holston, linebacker; Emmett Fink, defensive line; Jorge Lara, punter. Defensive Second Team: Chip Jones, defensive back. Offensive Honorable Mention: Jacob McMillan, running back; Kelsey Jensen, offensive line.
The Liberty Bell girls’ volleyball team ended its 11-5 season with a loss to White Swan in the bi-district playoffs at Ephrata last November. Earlier four Lady Lions were selected for All-League honors. Junior middle hitter Sarina Williams made the First Team and was also voted Most Valuable Player. Senior Taylor Curtiss made the First Team as an outside hitter. Junior middle hitter Whitney Fox was a Second Team pick. Junior setter Ashley Watson was given Honorable Mention.
The Methow Valley Killer Whales swim team capped an undefeated season with its eighth consecutive Okanogan County Championship on July 27. The Whale pods outdistanced the second-place Okanogan Bullfrogs by 249 points, 499 to 250, to claim the trophy. The Brewster Bearacudas and Omak Manta Rays finished third and fourth respectively. Jeannie White coached the Killer Whales with assistance from Derek Oliver and Bo Thrasher.
Liv Aspholm, 10, of Winthrop competed in her first Try-A-Tri triathlon at the ChelanMan held on Lake Chelan July 21. Aspholm competed in the 400-meter swim, 13.1-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run, placing second among youngsters aged 15 and under and 95th overall out of 122 finishers.
Five members of the Methow Valley Little League teamed up with players from the Three Rivers Crushers in Chelan to win the Wenatchee Fall Ball league championship Oct. 12-13. Peter Aspholm, 13, Findlay Holston, 13, Sam Neitlich, 12, Leo Shaw, 12, and Shay Crandall, 11, helped lead the Crushers to the team trophy.
As the countdown continues toward the selection later this month of U.S. Olympic Ski Team members who will compete at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, several local world-class XC skiers are hoping to make the team.
Erik and Sadie Bjornsen were in the news early in 2013 when both turned in stellar performances at the U.S. National Cross Country Ski Championships in Soldier Hollow, Utah, Jan. 5-6. Erik won his first national championship in the 15-kilometer freestyle event and Sadie placed second in the 10K free.
Later in the season, Erik emerged as the overall SuperTour points winner.
In her best season so far Sadie, currently ranked 18th in World Cup, continues to earn points with strong finishes on the tour including a seventh-place finish in the 5K at the Kussamo, Finland, World Cup last November followed by another seventh in the 10K at Lillehammer, Norway.
Caitlin Gregg placed first among 782 women at the 40th annual American Birkebeiner, North America’s largest XC ski marathon in Hayward, Wisc., last February. Husband Brian Gregg finished second among men 25-29 and 11th overall. Both Greggs are currently U.S. Continental Cup leaders as they vie for the 2014 U.S. team.
Winthrop biathlete Casey Smith, 2011 Junior Biathlete of the Year, qualified for the Junior World Championships in Austria last January following first-place finishes in three events at the U.S. Biathlon Junior World Team Trials held at Mt. Itasca, Minn. Smith, leader of the men’s division in the NorAm race series, recently qualified to compete at the IBU Cup races in Italy this month.
Six members of the Methow Valley Nordic Team have qualified to compete at this year’s Junior National Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska. Ella Hall, Olivia Ekblad, Maya Seckinger, Claire Waichler, Elise Putnam and Paul Everett made the cut for the Junior National Championship Team and will travel to the Fairbanks venue that runs from March 8-17.
Two-time Olympian Laura McCabe of Mazama finished first among women and ninth overall in the 50-kilometer cross country ski race at the 2013 Yellowstone Rendezvous Race in West Yellowstone, Mont., March 2.
McCabe, racing coach for the Methow Nordic Junior Team and an endurance-training specialist affiliated with Winthrop Fitness, is a familiar face in the front ranks of distance XC events. She has won just about every major Nordic ski race in North America including the nation’s largest, the American Birkebeiner.
Claire Wallis and Cailin Chandler, both members of the Loup Loup Alpine Race Team, made news on the slopes this season.
Chandler won first place in the women’s slalom at the Cascade Cup U12 Alpine Slalom Championships held at Alpental last March.
Wallis leveraged two first-place wins in the U14 slalom and GS for the best-combined time of all skiers at the Wolf Chase Race at the Loup Loup Ski Bowl last February.
Twisp’s Delilah Cupp was selected as one of six girls for the U16 U.S. Ski Team Academy last January and later toured Europe training and competing with the team.
Cupp placed third among 74 women in the Wes Barron Speed Series at Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Jan. 19. She also took second in the U16/Open Super G speed races series at the same venue.
Cupp’s other finishes included second in slalom at the U16 SmartWool Colorado Ski Cup at Copper Mountain and fourth overall in GS at the Eric Hayes Memorial Open in Park City, Utah.