The Liberty Bell boys’ cross country team cruised to the District 6 Championship last Wednesday (Oct. 27), scoring a near-perfect 17 points and outdistancing second place Brewster by nearly 40 points on a gorgeous autumn afternoon at the Okanogan Valley Golf Club. The girls, on Friday in similar fashion, cruised to victory in the combined district 5 and 6 regional meet in Pasco, scoring 18 points.
Liberty Bell placed all five scoring runners in the top six spots. Sophomore Will Halpin led the way for the Mountain Lions, pulling away at the 1-mile mark of the 3.1 mile (five kilometer) race.
A pack of four Mountain Lions, paced for the first half of the race by twin juniors Graham and Carter Sheley, hung with Halpin for the first mile. Isaiah Stoothoff and Aksel Thomson held tight with the Sheleys most of the way. Brewster’s junior Juan David Martinez also ran with that lead pack for the entirety of the race. Graham Sheley, Stoothoff and Martinez battled in a thrilling final 100 meters, with Sheley a step ahead in second place and Stoothoff just getting around Martinez at the line for a Liberty Bell sweep of the top three places. Sheley and Stoothoff were credited with identical times of 17:39, Martinez clocked in at 17:40.
Carter Sheley (5th; 17:54) and Thomson (6th; 18:00) completed the near sweep of scoring places for Liberty Bell. Jackson (11th; 19:12) and Tristan (15th; 19:37) Schmekel, Liberty Bell’s second set of varsity twins, completed the seven-member team, putting all runners in the top third of the field.
Halpin said he felt good about his race and 16:50 time. “I ran a good first mile and just settled in from there,” said the Mountain Lion sophomore. “I’m happy for the team’s solid performance and excited to go down to Pasco and run a good race.” The WIAA state meet is on Saturday, (Nov. 6).
Coach Erik Brooks echoed those thoughts in post-race comments. “You should feel good about it,” he told Halpin. “This course is tougher than the state course,” referring to the 5k course on Sun Willows Golf Course, the traditional state championship site.
The top two teams, Liberty Bell and Brewster, advance to state as do the top 14 individual runners from the district meet.
At the Big Cross in Pasco on Friday (Oct. 29), girls’ cross country placed six runners in the top ten as Leki Albright and Jori Grialou crossed the line 1-2, Payten Kaufman, Dashe McCabe and Ayeanna Ruprecht were packed in at 6th, 7th, and 8th, Sandra Hernandez placed tenth and Zoe Kaltenbach finished 17th in the 31-runner field.
The course didn’t get a favorable review from 2021 Regional Champion Albright. “It was okay, but not my favorite” she said. “It was all trail, covered with wood chips and not real fun to run on. There were some hills, but it wasn’t like any other course we have run on this year,” referring to the mostly grassy, smooth surfaces offered during the season. Albright set a 2021 5K personal season best mark of 19:52.
McCabe was a little off her normal pace, due to a stomach ailment on race day, but toughed it out and helped ensure the girls’ sixth straight trip to the state meet this coming Saturday (Nov. 6). They look to keep together a string of top state finishes including three state titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and a runner-up finish in November 2019. The team had a fifth-place finish in 2015.
Because of the low turnout numbers in Districts 5 and 6, the WIAA allotted only one team position to the state meet for 2021, forcing the combined qualifier. Liberty Bell has the only full girls team (minimum five registered participants), and Tri-Cities Prep fielded the only team in District 5. Participation numbers are down statewide in the combined girls 1B/2B classification.
Liberty Bell volleyball falls to Tonasket, prepares for districts
Liberty Bell fell to the Tonasket Tigers for the second time in a week, 3-0 on the home court Thursday (Oct. 28) in a hastily scheduled rematch for final seedings to the District 6 tournament. Tonasket outlasted the Mountain Lions 26-24 in an extended first set, then took control and defeated the Mountain Lions 25-19 and 25-18 in the final two sets for the 3-0 match win and the No. 5 seed into the tournament.
In the match, Jadyn Mitchell led the Mountain Lions with a perfect 15 of 15 from the service line, including four aces, eight kills and five assists. Defensively, the senior had eight digs and two blocks in the match. Caitlyn Cooley hit on 10 of 10 from service with two aces and eight digs. Shae Taylor had a match high five aces from service for the Mountain Lions, and added three kills and six digs.
Liberty Bell traveled to Okanogan as the No. 6 seed for that first round district bracket to face the No. 3 Brewster Bears Tuesday (Nov. 2). Tonasket headed for Manson to play No. 4 Lake Roosevelt. The No. 1 seed Manson Trojans face Bridgeport in their first match of the tournament. If the Mountain Lions can muster up a win over Brewster, they would advance into the double elimination rounds.
Mountain Lion soccer closes out Lake Roosevelt, Pateros
The Mountain Lions closed out the regular season with a 5-0 home win over the Lake Roosevelt Raiders on senior night. The win solidified the Mountain Lions as the No. 3 seed into the district tournament.
Liberty Bell opened district play with another 5-0 win, this one over the Pateros Nannies in a crisp and clear Saturday (Oct. 30) match at Mountain Lion Stadium. Senior Sophia Newton led the attack, finding the back of the net to open each half, Jess Dinham scored on a free kick from about 15 meters, Lillian Overbeck slammed a pass from the foot of Elke Wathen past the Pateros net minder and McKenna Kurtz tallied a penalty kick goal to close out the scoring. With the win, the Mountain Lions paved the way for a Tuesday (Nov. 2) road trip and a rematch with the Tonasket Tigers in round two, the start of double elimination play on the pathway to state.
“Tonasket will be tough for us,” said coach Katie Overbeck. “They have beaten us twice this year, but we aren’t that far from beating them. We just need the girls to be confident in themselves when they play.” Tonasket plays a tough, attacking style offense and drops back well on defense. Liberty Bell has struggled at times with figuring out the Tiger defense, getting caught offsides with more frequency than usual. “And their offense is an attacking style that we have had trouble adjusting to,” said volunteer assistant coach (and former head coach) Lincoln Post. “We got down early last game (a 4-1 loss), but played them even up through most of the rest of that game, and were in the first game all the way to the end,” agreeing with the sentiment that but for a flukey first-half Tiger goal, that first match earlier in October at Liberty Bell could have easily been a draw or Mountain Lion victory.
A Liberty Bell win over Tonasket on Tuesday would mean a 3 p.m. Saturday match in Wenatchee’s Apple Bowl for state seeding. A loss would send LBH to Spokane for a district 6-7 crossover loser-out match with a yet to be determined opponent from the Spokane area.
Football celebrates senior night versus Bridgeport
The Mountain Lions blew past the Bridgeport Mustangs on senior night Friday (Oct. 29) by a 56-0 score, improving their record to 7-1 on the season, and cementing the No. 1, and likely only, seed from District 6 into the regional B eight-man football playoffs.
The Mustangs led the game off with a successful on-side kick, taking the ball near midfield and marching it down the field smartly, combining a couple of passing plays with some solid running. With the ball inside the Mountain Lion 10 yard line, things went sideways for the Douglas County visitors, fumbling a snap, dropping and recovering a live-ball backward pass for another loss, and fumbling away a fourth and goal attempt. Liberty Bell took over on downs, and the rest of the night dominated the undermanned Mustangs.
Riley Lidey returned to the quarterback position after several illness-induced weeks off and looked good throwing the ball to his speedy corps of receivers and handing the ball to Lucien Paz who had another solid rushing effort. Lidey completed 11 of 14 passing attempts for 159 yards and two touchdowns. Sawyer Crandall caught five passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, and Lidey caught a touchdown pass from Lucien Paz late in the game. Paz led the rushing attack, carrying the ball nine times for 152 yards and two touchdowns.
At halftime the Mountain Lions honored three departing seniors — Grey Patterson, Noah Holston and Zane Strome. Patterson and Holston led the Liberty Bell defense with six tackles each, and were joined by junior Beau Tanguy, also with six. Patterson was credited with four quarterback sacks and Tanguy recovered a Mustang fumble and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown.
“We’ve got one more to go before the playoffs,” said Coach Jeff Lidey. “We have our last game at Pateros next week and then wait to hear where we go from there,” referring to the seeding process for the eight-man State playoffs. The state WIAA title game will be on Dec. 4, place yet to be announced. The Mountain Lions will need to win three more games to get there, and at some point will have to face either No. 1 Odessa, No. 2 Almira-Coulee-Hartline or No. 3 Pomeroy, all fairly tough matchups. Liberty Bell’s only loss this year came at Pomeroy in mid-September. The first round happens the weekend of Nov. 12-13.