Mountain Lion cross country runners took three of four individual top spots and nearly swept the team honors at the Liberty Bell Invite on Saturday (Oct. 9). Sophomores Will Halpin and Leki Albright cruised to victories in the high school varsity races while seventh grader Taylor Hover edged out Kathrin Zhuk of Manson and Liberty Bell sixth grader Anja Merkens in an exciting three-way battle at the finish line for the middle school crown.
Okanogan eighth grader Finlay Weston took the tape in the boys’ middle school race with Mountain Lion eighth grader Bodie Thomson nipping Okanogan’s Hyrum Lyles at the line for second place.
The Mountain Lions took team honors in the girls’ middle school division over Manson 19-42, but Liberty Bell middle school fell second to Okanogan’s 22, with a score of 36. In the high school races, the Liberty Bell girls, as the only full team, scored a perfect 15 points and the Boys took the team title with 24 points to 1A Cashmere’s 54, Brewster at 56 with Manson, Okanogan and Lake Roosevelt filling out the six-team field.
In cross country, points are based on where a team’s top five finishers place among the other teams with at least five runners, one point for each position. A full team can consist of seven runners with the sixth and seventh runners often times knocking scoring runners from other teams down the point ladder. The lowest scoring team wins the meet.
“It’s ideal. We should have a good day, today,” said LBH Coach Erik Brooks of the environmental conditions. The temperature was in the low 50s and partly cloudy skies graced the Sean McCabe Memorial Course at race time.
Halpin set a new course record at 16.38.2. Behind him in fourth through sixth place were juniors Graham and Carter Sheley (17:16.7 and 17:37.8) and Isaiah Stoothoff (17:38.5), respectively. That pack of Mountain Lions was followed by Aksel Thomson in eighth place and Jackson Schmekel in ninth. Tristan Schmekel finished 17th, placing all LBH runners in the top 20 and sealing the win for the home team. The top five scoring runners were packed within a minute of Halpin’s top time.
“The first two miles were pretty good,” said a reserved Halpin after his race, “but that last mile was not a highlight race.” Still, first place and a new course record gave him a reason to smile at the awards ceremony.
Aksel Thomson was a little off his race after getting in the way of an angry wasp on Friday afternoon — his left knee was wrapped in an ice pack after the race. He said it was sore and puffy, but he’ll be ready for next week’s race at The Gorge near George for the Moses Lake Invite.
Though still on the disabled list with soreness in a leg, freshman Dexter Delaney got a workout leading runners around the 3-mile course on his mountain bike. Hopes are he will be ready for the Oct. 27 district meet and state qualifier at Okanogan. State is a week and a half later on Nov. 6 in Pasco.
It was solid green at the front of the girls race on the same 3-mile course. Albright led all runners, touring the course in 19:42.7. Senior Jori Grialou (20:13.1) was second, followed by sophomore Dashe McCabe in third place at 20:38.7. Ayeanna Ruprecht, a senior, ran 22:49.9 for sixth and sophomore Sandra Hernandez had her best race at 23:34, placing seventh. Freshman Zoe Kaltenbach (24:51) was eighth.
Albright and Grialou took charge early on, with McCabe hanging close, but in the second half of the race, Albright pulled away from her teammates. The smaller meet, without the huge field of runners, and the more trail-like running surface at Liberty Bell took some adjustment. “I was focused on rhythm, said Albright. “It was definitely different. Kinda dusty, yet we’re used to running on it,” she said of the home course.
Senior Peyton Kaufman joined Delaney on the sidelines this week, also nursing a sore leg. She is taking it easy in advance of the girls’ district meet in the Tri-Cities on Oct. 29. Because Liberty Bell has the only full girls’ team in district 6, they must travel to Pasco for a combined district 5 and 6 meet. There will be only three full teams at that meet vying for the lone spot to state.
The girls’ middle school race opened the meet on the 1.5 mile distance for the sixth through eighth grade field. Seventh grader Taylor Hover used a late kick in the last 50 meters to pass Manson’s Kathrin Zhuk at the finish line, recording a time of 10:36.4, a half-second ahead of Zhuk. Anja Merkens was a close third place at 10:38.7. Mountain Lions Ingrid Venable, Wylie Smith and Posey Hannigan crossed the line within four seconds of each other in places 4-6, respectively, and five more Mountain Lions occupied places 8 through 12.
Finlay Weston of Okanogan broke to the lead early and went wire to wire in the boys’ middle school race. Liberty Bell eighth grader Bodie Thomson led the Mountain Lions, placing second with a time of 8:53. Classmate Ben Kaufman was 15 seconds back in fourth place and a pack of Mountain Lions led by seventh grader Oliver Peplow-Shaw (11th place; 10:04.6) and Landin Schmekel in 12th 2 seconds back. Keller Knab (13th; 10:21), Ben Northey (14th ; 10:22.2) and River Ferguson (15th; 10:22.8) completed Liberty Bell’s scoring team.
Soccer Girls Go 1-2; Boot Bears In Overtime Shootout
Liberty Bell’s girls’ soccer took to the pitch three times this past week, hosting league-leading Okanogan last Tuesday (Oct.5), traveling to Brewster on Saturday (Oct. 9) and taking on the Tonasket Tigers in a hastily scheduled and chilly Monday (Oct. 11) night matchup on the pitch at Mountain Lion Stadium. While the Lions came out of the week 1-2, there was plenty of room for optimism as the girls dropped hard fought defensive contests to the Bulldogs and Tigers, and beat the Bears in a two-overtime, shootout thriller on the shores of the Columbia River.
On Tuesday, Okanogan shut out Liberty Bell 3-0. “The girls played a great match,” said Coach Katie Overbeck. “Okanogan is averaging nearly six goals per game. Our girls did something nobody else has been able to do, holding them to only three goals.” The Bulldogs offensive pressure was constant in the first half, and junior goalkeeper Ruby McCarthy was up to it, stopping most everything the visitors from over the Loup could muster. It wasn’t until the 16:50 mark of the match that Bulldog Afton Wood found herself alone in front of the goal, about 15 meters out, firing a shot from dead center that rocketed past Liberty Bell goalkeeper Ruby McCarthy for the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, Wood fired a shot from the right side that ricocheted off the right post making the score 2-0. The Mountain Lions kept the Bulldogs out of the goal for the rest of the half and mounted a couple of offensive threats of their own. goalkeeper Addison Brown turned away one more chance for the Lions on that same possession and the home team went to halftime down 2-0.
“That was a huge defensive effort for us and while we didn’t win, the girls felt really encouraged by their effort,” Overbeck said.
That defensive theme continued as the Mountain Lions traveled to Brewster on Saturday to take on the Bears. Ruby McCarthy took a hit on the knee and had to leave the game in the second half, giving way to senior defender Chloe Sprauer. The game ended in a nil-nil tie at the end of 80 minutes of regulation time. Two overtime periods later, with no resolution, the match moved into a shootout, which the Mountain Lions won 3-2.
A last-minute schedule change on Friday lined up a non-league match at Liberty Bell Monday night with the Tonasket Tigers. The Tigers came into the valley as one of the top three teams in the NCWB League, with a notoriously aggressive and tough defensive style of play. The Mountain Lions were ready and countered with a similar attacking style of defense. Tonasket emerged victorious 1-0 in the late evening October chill.
The teams battled to a nil-nil halftime tie. McCarthy, back in goal, turning away seven Tonasket shots. Then, after a diving save, McCarthy landed on her sore knee and aggravating the injury and Lilly Belcher finished out the first half. The Tigers applied pressure, but Belcher made key deflections and the Tigers couldn’t connect on one golden opportunity to close out the opening period.
McCarthy returned to the net to open the second half, but was bested by Tiger Emma Wilson, who fired a close shot off a corner kick and rebound to make the score 1-0 Tonasket. The Mountain Lions had some opportunities throughout the half, but couldn’t get the ball into the net.
The loss drops LBH to a 6-4 season record, 3-1 in league play, good for second place behind Okanogan, making the next three games very important. The Mountain Lions travel to Manson this Thursday (Oct. 14) for a 4:30 p.m. match with the Trojans. They return to Liberty Bell for their last regular season home match and Senior Night on Tuesday, (Oct.19), where they will face the Lake Roosevelt Raiders, then wrap up the regular season with a rematch with Tonasket, Thursday (Oct. 21), kickoff at 4 p.m.
Volleyball sweeps Oroville 3-0; Bears return the favor
The Liberty Bell girls split the week’s action, swarming the Oroville Hornets 3-0 and dropping three sets to the Brewster Bears on Tuesday, (Oct. 5) and Thursday (Oct. 7).
The Mountain Lions used the power serving of senior Jadyn Mitchell and her play at the net to overpower the Hornets 25-16, 25-10 and 25-17. Mitchell was successful on 23 of 25 serving attempts, 11 of which were service aces. She had 11 kill shots and added seven assists. Caitlyn Cooley added nine kill shots to the attack, freshmen Katelyn Evans, Rio Lott and Violet Chrastina all had great success on the service line, Chrastina going a perfect 17 for 17 serving with five aces. MJ Mihalic was the leading setter in the match with nine assists.
Once out to a 2-0 match lead, Coach Christine Scott began to filter in some lesser experienced players. “It was a good chance to get some of our younger players into the match and get them some game experience,” said Scott.
On Thursday the league-leading Brewster Bears invaded the Lions’ Den and swept the Mountain Lions 25-27, 14-25 and 15-25. The first set was very competitive as Brewster jumped out 4-0, only to have Liberty Bell storm their way back into the set and take the lead at 14-12. From there it was back and forth and it took several extra points in the set, with the Bears prevailing 27-25.
Brewster’s Abi Boesel, a junior, was the story in the second set, serving up four consecutive aces to open and send the Bears on their way to the 25-14 win and a 2-0 match lead. Boesel served up 10 aces in the match and teamed up with Tori Hull, also a junior, to keep the Lions at bay in the second and third sets from the service line.
For the Mountain Lions, Mitchell again led the way, successful on 14 of 15 serve attempts with two aces and six kills, five kill/block combinations and nine assists on the front line. Senior Shae Taylor was eight for eight at the service line with two aces and had three block/kills. Mihalic, Lott and Cooley also contributed quality serving and Cooley pounded out eight kill shots. The split moves LBH to 5-5 on the season, 4-4 in league play.
The Mountain Lions traveled to Manson for a late Tuesday (Oct. 12) match with the Trojans, head for Coulee Dam to meet the Raiders on Thursday (Oct. 14) and entertain the Fillies from Bridgeport on Saturday (Oct. 16). Match time is noon for JV and about 1:30 p.m. for varsity. Tuesday (Oct. 19) is Senior Night.
Lions swamp Soap Lake 44-6; prep For Homecoming
Liberty Bell football traveled to Soap Lake for the second consecutive season and beat the Eagles 44-6. The Mountain Lions wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with junior quarterback Riley Lidey hitting Connor Arndt on a 55-yard passing connection on the first play from scrimmage. Lidey also hit freshman Lucien Paz on a 25-yard touchdown pass and Noah Holston broke free for an 82-yard touchdown run. Paz added two touchdowns and 106 yards rushing on eight carries, Holston carried the ball for 135 yards and Lidey went five of 10 passing for 136 yards.
The Mountain Lions face Entiat Friday night (Oct. 15) for Liberty Bell’s 2021 Homecoming. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The Tigers are improved from last year, currently sporting a handsome 4-1 season record and are undefeated in league play at 3-0. They hung 64 points on Pateros last Friday night while holding the Billygoats to only 16. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat headed toward District playoff time in early November.