Liberty Bell High School has put a wrap on season 2 of the 2021 sports schedule with some successes, some disappointments and a glimpse into the future of Mountain Lion athletics.
Student athletes take most of this week off from interscholastic competition to gear up for the 2021 season 3, the traditional winter sports of basketball and wrestling for North Central Washington. After a week of practice, games get underway on Tuesday (May 25), as the Mountain Lion basketball teams host Pateros. Wrestlers will be at Chelan on Wednesday (May 26).
Things really started working well for Liberty Bell just before the season ended. The boys’ soccer squad defeated Pateros on Senior Recognition Day (May 11), and nearly pulled off an upset of the Warden Cougars on May 13, giving up the winning goal to the visitors in the final two minutes to fall by a score of 2-1. Two weeks earlier, the Cougars had trounced the Mountain Lions, 12-1, on their home field.
Solid defensive team play and some great goaltending by senior Travis Grialou kept the powerful Cougars at bay for most of the match. Grialou stopped 13 shots on goal. Another 13 Warden shots missed wide or over the top of the crossbar, with several shots clanking off the metal posts.
The teams went to halftime nil-nil. Warden finally broke through, scoring on a redirection header in front of the goal at the 47:05 mark in the match. The defensive struggle continued well into the second half, with close calls for Liberty coming on corner kicks by senior Wyatt Belcher.
Then, at 70:10 Belcher let fly with another corner kick from the right side that found eighth-grader Brodi Barber on the opposite side of the Warden goal. Barber, timing his leap perfectly, went up, snapped his head goal-ward and deflected the ball past the Cougar goalkeeper. The Mountain Lions were on the board at 1-1.
“It was a great game all the way around,” coach Dave Marz said. “We’ve been working on following what we put into practice into what we put into the game.” Of his senior goalkeeper, Grialou, who recently stepped into the position, Marz said, “He’s a great athlete and he did a great job stopping the ball today.”
Marz was quick to also praise the team’s offense as Liberty Bell kept the pressure on the Cougars for much of the match. “Wyatt worked very hard leading the offensive effort,” Marz said.
The Mountain Lions completed their 2021 schedule at Oroville on Saturday (May 15). Marz reported that the Lions started out strong. Shiloh Luvon placed a header into the Oroville net for the first Liberty Bell goal, but Oroville eventually outlasted the Lions 3-2 for the Hornet victory. The loss dropped Liberty Bell to 3-7 on the year.
Marz was not discouraged by the season, and remains optimistic about the future. “We talked a lot about using this season as a starting point to move Mountain Lion soccer forward, and to a player these student-athletes accepted that challenge and showed they could improve with every move,” Marz said.
The Mountain Lions dropped their 2021 Senior Night home finale against the Almira-Coulee-Hartline Warriors, 9-8, on May 11. The Warriors played error-free defensive baseball over the full seven-inning game while the Mountain Lions committed three costly errors, leading to four unearned runs. The loss dropped LBH to 7-5 on the season with three games to go.
After the first three Warrior batters scored, Mountain Lion starter Dusty Patterson settled down and found his groove, striking out five of the next six batters and retiring 10 consecutive batters through the fourth inning. The Mountain Lion senior struck out 11 over his six innings of work.
Patterson got the home team on the board in the bottom of the first, leading off with a single, then stealing second base and swiping third sliding. Taking advantage of a big lead and a catcher’s soft lob return of a pitch, the speedy Lion senior made a dash for home. Pitcher Cooper Correa was slow to respond, and Patterson scored on a head first-slide under the high throw as his right hand reached the plate before the tag.
“I was at about the cut of the grass,” Patterson said, pointing to a similar spot along the first base line. “I saw they weren’t paying attention and just decided to go. It wasn’t a called play, it was my call.”
That was the first of two plate swipes as eighth-grader Lucien Paz broke from third when the A-C-H catcher gunned down Sawyer Crandall stealing second, Paz sliding head-first under the tag for Liberty Bell’s second tally in the bottom of the second inning.
Defensively, it wasn’t all bad news for Liberty Bell. Paz made a brilliant over-the-shoulder diving catch in shallow left field. Grey Patterson chased down several fly ball in left field, and catcher Noah Holston displayed a rifle arm on a failed steal attempt by A-C-H. Ultimately, though, it was the defensive misplays that did the Mountain Lions in.
• At Tonasket: The Lions lost on a walk-off home run, 8-5, in the bottom of the seventh inning on May 12.
• At Okanogan: On Saturday (May 15), the season drew to a close with a tough-fought double-header at Okanogan, the Bulldogs coming out with a sweep of two one-run victories, 12-11 and 4-3.
Track and field
The Mountain Lion track and field season came to a conclusion with the North Central Washington Sub-Regional and Regional Championship meets at Wenatchee High School on Friday and Eastmont High School on Saturday.
The two meets were separated by a qualification standard for Eastmont and the Sub-Regional meet for those who didn’t attain that standard during the season. The field for both meets was a blend of competitors from all classes of schools defined as the NC Washington Region for this unique 2021 season.
At Wenatchee on Friday (May 14), there were several notable Mountain Lion performances, the highlight of which was the 1-2 finish in the boys’ 1,600-meter by Liberty Bell freshmen Aksel Thomson and Will Halpin, both setting personal records for the metric mile. Thomson (5:02) crossed the line a scant 2 seconds ahead of his teammate in a closely competitive race, the top six runners only 10 seconds apart. Isaiah Stoothoff placed second in the 400M run, also setting a personal record with a time 57.98 seconds, and added a fifth-place finish in the javelin.
Other personal record performances at Wenatchee included Kyler Mitchell’s 2:42 in the 800M run, Marshall Budrow’s 35 feet, 6 inches shot put effort, Omar Ortega in both the shot and discus, and Fischer Edwards in the javelin.
On the girls’ side, Sandra Hernandez placed second (1:13) in the 400M run, Lindsay Worrell picked up two fifth-place finishes in the 800M run (2:59) and 1,600M (6:39). Freshman Penny Palinska placed fourth in the high jump and set personal records in the long jump at 11 feet, 3.5 inches, and 100M dash (15.76).
At the Regional Championship Meet at Eastmont, the girls’ meet saw personal and seasonal records for all three of the Mountain Lion individual event participants. In the 800M run, senior Keeley Brooks set a new PR at 2:28.40 on her way to a fifth-place finish, first among the Class B competitors. Freshman Leki Albright also set a PR, 2:35.85, placing 11th. Albright added a second PR in the 1,600M, placing fourth overall at 5:43. Senior Lena Nelson also set her 1,600M all-time best at 6:10. Brooks, Nelson and Albright were joined by Hernandez in the 4x400M relay to place eighth in 4:40.
For the boys, Thomson and Halpin both set PR marks in the championship meet’s 3,200M run, Thomson placing sixth (11:00.6) and Halpin ninth (11:05.9). Stoothoff earned a fourth-place ranking in the high jump, clearing the bar with his career best at 5 feet, 10 inches, and Mitchell made the finals at 5 feet, 2 inches. Liberty Bell was also present in the 4x400M relay, getting the baton successfully around the track four times in 4:10.85.
Coach Katie Leuthauser was very satisfied with the results. “We had a great two days under the Wenatchee sun,” she said. “Almost all the athletes had a PR in at least one of their events … Marshall, Keeley and Lena had great performances to end their high school track careers on a high note.”
Mountain Lion tennis was slated for a trip to Lake Roosevelt on Saturday (May 15). That match was canceled at the request of the Raider program, bringing to a close the 2021 season for the Liberty Bell netters.
A very young team featured sophomores, freshmen and some eighth-graders with no upper class members. Coaches Dave Schulz and Keri Miles are optimistic about the next few years. Players to watch will be headed up by junior-to-be Ellie Blank, who had a successful first year in the sport. Teaming with freshman Amelia Evans, Blank appear to be headed for good things as partners in pairs. Ezekiel (EZ) Kirk and Angel Arellano look to lead the boys in pairs and singles, with incoming frosh Matthew Bosco showing promise as an eighth-grader this year.
The off-again, on-again season of the Mountain Lion softball program came to a premature end after only five games when Saturday’s double-header at Almira-Coulee-Hartline was canceled for lack of player eligibility.
The Lions final record of 0-5 was more indicative of that lack of roster numbers than anything else. Having only 12 players, and being reduced by injuries at key positions, proved problematic for the young team. With only a two-person pitching rotation, and one of those out indefinitely because of injury, Liberty Bell had no choice but to cancel the last four games of the 2021 season.