By Rick Lewis
It was almost normal — two track and field meets at Mountain Lion Stadium in two days as Liberty Bell hosted both the North Central District junior highs and Central Washington B high schools on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
Earlier in the week, the Liberty Bell teams competed against other regional schools at Bridgeport. On Thursday (April 22), the high school version of the Liberty Bell Invite entertained schools from all around north central Washington, including Almira-Coulee-Hartline, Brewster, Bridgeport, Lake Roosevelt, Omak and Oroville.
Isaiah Stoothoff garnered the only first-place result for the boys, leading a Liberty Bell sweep of the high jump by clearing the bar at 5 feet, 8 inches. Kyler Mitchell’s jump of 5 feet, 4 inches was good for second place and Aksel Thomson finished third.
Marshall Budrow was in the top five in the shot put at 32 feet, 3 inches, and Stoothoff placed third in the javelin.
On the track, Marshall Budrow ran a smooth 100-meter dash, placing fifth with a time of 13.2 seconds. Mitchell was nosed out at the finish of the 400M dash by Omak’s Caden Johnson. Thomson ran a solid 5:13 in the 1,600M run, placing third, and Mitchell, Stoothoff, Thomson and Budrow took second place in the 4x400M relay.
On the girls’ side, in the 800M run senior Keeley Brooks led the field with a time of 2:36, and freshman Sandra Hernandez recorded her personal best at 3:03 to place fifth. Freshman Leki Albright took first in the 1,600M run in 6:02. Lena Nelson was close behind in second (6:17) and Lindsay Worrell (6:38) finished fifth. In the 100M dash, freshman Lillian Overbeck finished third.
The Mountain Lion 4x100M relay team of Nina Kominak, Clementine Palinska, Joslyn Rispone and Lillian Overbeck finished a close second to Bridgeport’s Fillies, trailing by less than a half second at the tape. The 4x400M relay was a different story with Liberty Bell breaking out early and taking a 3.5-second victory over the Omak Pioneers. Brooks, Nelson, Albright and Worrell looked strong throughout the race.
More tennis coming
The Mountain Lions hit the road for their first match of this abbreviated spring sports season, traveling to Coulee Dam to face the Lake Roosevelt Raiders on Wednesday after rain washed out their Saturday three-way home meet with Oroville and Tonasket. Mountain Lion numbers were down for this meet, so the three who made the trip, sophomores EZ Kirk, Angel Arellano and Ellie Blank, saw plenty of action, according to assistant coach Keri Miles.
Kirk and Arellano each won their singles matches and then teamed up to win both of their doubles matches. Blank split her two matches, losing to Lake Roosevelt’s Raven Clark (5-8) and defeating Tarae Shanklin (8-1).
“We have welcomed some new players this week and look forward to a larger squad for our remaining matches,” said Miles. “We have a match this Wednesday (April 28) at Okanogan. After that we have an action-packed last two weeks with matches Monday, Wednesday and Saturday the first two weeks of May.”
First soccer win for boys
The Mountain Lions picked up their first win of the early season, 1-0 over the Pateros Billygoats on the pitch at Mountain Lion Stadium last Tuesday. Liberty Bell dominated the first half, keeping the ball in the offensive end and applying constant pressure on the Billygoats’ defense.
Darra Kelly, Wyatt Belcher and Brian Pacheco all had shots on goal that either sailed wide, or went over the top of the net, and good ball control left very few opportunities for Pateros to advance the ball beyond the midfield stripe.
Just inside the 38-minute mark of the first half, Belcher just missed on a shot from the right side of the goal. A moment later he hit Kelly with a perfect pass and the Liberty Bell eighth-grader punched the ball into the back of the net for the lead and eventual winning goal just before the intermission.
The Mountain Lions had several scoring chances in the second half as they kept up the pressure on the Pateros defense, missing shots just wide of the goal or over the crossbar.
First-year coach Dave Marz was all smiles after the final whistle. “Wins are good,” he said. “We’ll take it. I like that our kids kept up the pressure on them the whole game.”
Saturday, the Lions faced the Wenatchee C squad for the second week in a row, the result being a 8-2 loss on the home field. Marz was philosophical, seeing improvement from the previous week’s loss to the Panthers. “Our kids played hard all the way through,” he said, pointing to a late-game goal with 3:30 left. Tristan Schmekel picked the ball clean off the foot of a Wenatchee defender about 20 yards out from the Panther goal, made a crossover move and hit Shiloh Luvon in stride. Luvon blasted the ball past the Wenatchee goal keeper for the final Liberty Bell tally. Sophomore Jayden Hammer recorded the Mountain Lions’ first goal.
The Mountain Lions travel south to Warden for a Thursday match against the 2B Cougars of the Eastern Washington Athletic Conference before returning home to face Okanogan on Saturday (May 1), kickoff at 11 a.m.
Mountain Lions jousted by Knights
Mountain Lion baseball fell short in both games of a double-header Saturday at 1A Royal High School in the Columbia Basin, 10-5 and 7-2. The losses dropped the Mountain Lions to 3-2 on the abbreviated and realigned 2021 season. David Kominak opened the twin bill with a strong five-inning performance on the mound, and kept the Mountain Lions in the game. In the sixth inning fielding errors took their toll as the Knights pulled away to the 10-5 win. In the nightcap, the Knights’ pitching staff took over, limiting the visiting Lions to only one hit and two unearned runs.
“Royal has a good ball club,” said coach David Aspholm. “It is good to play outside of our district. Each area/league develops a distinct style — and we learned from the differences in playing style. I think it will help us moving forward this year and beyond.”
Liberty Bell was headed for Almira-Coulee-Hartline to take on the Warriors on Tuesday. The Mountain Lions have a double-header at Liberty Bell Saturday versus the Tonasket Tigers. The first pitch is slated for 11 a.m.
Softball opens play
Liberty Bell Softball finally opens play this week with a Thursday home game versus Brewster. The Mountain Lion girls have been short-handed and finally have enough eligible players to hit the field. Senior pitcher Payton Lawrence will get the start on the mound and the Lions also look toward senior outfielder Madi Surface and Bella Chrastina at first base for leadership and experience.
“Yeah, it’s a tough start for us,” coach Chad Surface said of the season opener, “but we’re gonna give it our best.” The Lions follow that with double-header action Saturday at home, first pitch scheduled for 11 a.m. against the Tonasket Tigers.