It’s the spring state tournament season in Washington high school sports, and Liberty Bell High School is well represented in three of the five sports this year: baseball, tennis and track and field.
Track and field
Returning to a more normal format of league, district and state championships, the Liberty Bell track and field team sent 13 athletes from the North Central Washington 2B League meet held on May 11 to the District 6 championships at Brewster, held last Thursday (May 19) in the face of a persistent, and sometimes brutal, westerly wind.
Distance running standouts Leki Albright and Dexter Delaney, along with javelin thrower Fischer Edwards, lead a contingent of seven Mountain Lions to the WIAA Gesa State Championships at Eastern Washington University this coming Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Both runners qualified in the 1,600-meter and 3,200M runs at the District 6 championship meet held on the new track at Brewster High School. Albright swept the top spot in both races for girls, clocking times of 5:41.49 and 11:50.72. Edwards also brought home the gold from Brewster, taking first in the javelin with a heave of 132 feet, 10 inches, defeating Manson’s Dawson Smith by about 6 feet.
Delaney won the 3,200M (10:43.85) and was second (4:42.63) behind Tonasket’s Carter Timm (4:39.92, PR) in the 1,600M. The Mountain Lion freshman took the lead off the starting gun and held that lead through most of the first two laps, Liberty Bell’s Will Halpin running in second place ahead of Timm into the second lap.
Timm found another gear, though, going around Halpin at the end of lap two, then hunting down Delaney and passing him on the third of the four-lap race. It took a personal best by Timm, and he outlasted a late charge by Delaney in the final 200 meters to win by about 3 seconds.
Liberty Bell Coach Erik Brooks said that Halpin had not been feeling well since the day after the district meet and had difficulty on the track. Indeed, the Mountain Lion sophomore scratched his appearance in the 3,200M later in the day and did not qualify for state.
Albright led from start to finish in both of her races, lapping the field twice in the 3,200M and battling Brewster rival Kaydence Carrington for three laps, taking the lead at the start of lap four and outlasting Carrington to finish.
Kyler Mitchell, Sandra Hernandez, Aksel Thomson and Isaiah Stoothoff have also been invited to the party in Cheney, each placing second in their events at the district meet last Thursday.
Mitchell, with a time of 46.26, was a close second to Brewster’s Francisco Duran while setting a personal record in the 300M hurdles. The two were head-to-head for the entire race, Mitchell with the early advantage, Duran making up the staggered start distance on the turn and leading, barely, as the pair left the rest of the field behind and battled the final 100 meters. Duran edged Mitchell by eight tenths of a second as they crossed the line.
Hernandez’s 2nd-place finish in the 400M, although not a PR for her, was still impressive at 1:07.09. With the 15 mph breeze blowing in the faces of the runners on the back stretch, running from lane five, Hernandez held the advantage of the staggered start on Okanogan’s Sarah Hamilton as both runners began picking off the outer lanes headed for the upwind turn.
Coming off that turn and into the stretch, Hamilton had passed Hernandez, widening the gap from the adjacent inside lane, the Mountain Lion closing a bit toward the finish but not able to make up the difference.
Thomson qualified for state with a strong 2nd-place finish in the 3,200M run. Thomson was in agreement with most everyone who had to run into the backstretch wind, “That was tough. It was like running into a wall coming around the first turn,” said the Mountain Lion sophomore.
Junior Isaiah Stoothoff qualified for state in the high jump, placing 2nd by clearing the bar at 5 feet, 10 inches. Rajay Britton of Okanogan was the district champion at 6 feet even.
The state championships for the 1B, 2B and 1A classifications get underway Thursday afternoon at the EWU Athletic Complex. Kyler Mitchell wastes no time seeing action in the preliminary heats of boys’ 300M hurdles, scheduled for 4 p.m. as the first event of the three-day meet. Dexter Delaney and Leki Albright get their starts about an hour later in the finals of the 1,600M run. Friday and Saturday are full days. The meet schedule is posted on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association website, WIAA.com.
Liberty Bell’s run in this year’s WIAA Gesa State Tournament ended at one game as the Forks Spartans shut out the Mountain Lions, 2-0, in Saturday’s first round of the Castle Rock regional. Liberty Bell had difficulty putting bats on the ball, the Paz brothers (Lucien and Remy) getting the only two knocks of the game for the Mountain Lions.
Freshman pitcher Damon Alumbaugh was on point, though, according to Coach David Aspholm. “He was super-efficient, throwing only 87 pitches,” said Aspholm. Of the four hits Alumbaugh allowed, according to the Mountain Lion coach, three of them came back-to-back in the second inning, scoring both of the Spartans’ runs.
“We fielded well, pitched well, and brought great energy to the game but we could not get guys on base to put any pressure on their defense,” Aspholm said.
Liberty Bell advances one player to the WIAA Gesa State Championships in Yakima this weekend. Junior Haizea Alvarez-Murua placed 3rd at the CWB district championships in Omak last week to punch her ticket to the tournament.
She won her first match, but lost her semi-final match to eventual champion Skyler Hardesty of Tonasket. Alvarez-Murua defeated Soap Lake’s Haley White 8-1 in a pro-set format and then suffered the loss to Hardesty, 1-6, 4-6, moving her into the consolation bracket.
There, she defeated Liberty Linklater of Okanogan, 6-2, 6-3, and won her fourth match in another pro-set, 8-4, to claim the 3rd and final spot to state. Caroline Zoretic of Pateros, who lost the title match to Hardesty, will be the No. 2 NCWB representative to state.
Alvarez-Murua, an exchange student, hails from the town of Gorliz in the Basque region of Spain. Attending classes at Liberty Bell this year, she played soccer in the fall and has had a pretty successful spring campaign on the courts. She comes from a school in Spain that affords no athletic opportunities, learning how to play tennis in a non-school affiliated club.
Alvarez-Murua said she is excited for the upcoming state tournament. “I have never played in a tournament as big,” she said at practice on Monday. “This will be new for me.”
She has loved her time at Liberty Bell and living in Winthrop, said her host, Nancy Aadland. “She thought she might end up going to a large city like Los Angeles or New York, but ended up in the Methow. She has found that she loves it here,” Aadland said. Alvarez-Murua agrees with that sentiment, telling the News she would love to spend one more year here.
The 1B/2B Tournament features only eight players, and everyone gets at least two matches. Alvarez-Murua’s first match is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 a.m., when she’ll serve it up against Avi Sahota of Chewelah’s Jenkins High School. A win Friday advances Alvarez-Murua to the semi-finals Saturday morning, a loss puts her in a Friday afternoon bracket that could lead to a 3rd-place finish.
Much like the state cross country meet and the Mat Classic for wrestling, the state tennis event includes all classes at the same venue, the Yakima Tennis Club.
“It’s a beautiful facility, and big,” said Coach Dave Schulz of the indoor arena in the west end of Yakima. “A wonderful place to play a tennis tournament.”