Both Mountain Lion cross country teams will be returning to the WIAA state championships this weekend after the girls’ and boys’ teams qualified at the District championships at Liberty Bell High School on Saturday (Oct. 29).
The girls return as the 2022 District 5/6 champions for the seventh straight time, having outscored the Oroville Hornets 20-38. The defending state champion boys head back as the District runner-up after a mild upset, falling to the Brewster boys 31-39.
Junior Leki Abright repeated as girls’ District champion, outdistancing Brewster Bear junior Kaydence Carrington in a career-long familiar scenario over the 5-kilometer course, breaking the tape at 20:21.09 — about 15 seconds ahead of Carrington.
In a variation on the theme, though, Carrington assumed the lead about halfway through and tried to create distance. Albright, for her part, said that wasn’t really part of her race plan.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to stick with her,” Albright said. She did, and pulled away toward the end to win by a margin that has been consistent with the two competitors over the past couple of years.
Juan David Martinez of Brewster was the boys’ champion, turning the tables on the Mountain Lion duo of Dexter Delaney and Will Halpin. Martinez made up about 30 meters in an amazing final quarter mile to nip the Mountain Lions at the finish. Martinez crossed at 17:14.5, Delaney at 17:15.5 and Halpin in third at 17:15.8, just 1.3 seconds separating the top three spots.
Liberty Bell’s Aksel Thomson finished 4th at 17:33 in a 5K personal best for the junior. A pack of four Bears then led the rest of the Mountain Lion contingent across the line to clinch their first District title in anyone’s recent memory.
“A tough battle from Brewster and a few of our runners still coming back from illness and fatigue, but the boys ended up in 2nd place,” said head coach Erik Brooks. Singling out Thomson’s personal best 5K race, he said “It was a timely season-best improvement over his early-season Wenatchee mark of 18:05 and he looked steady and solid with an excellent finishing kick. His 4th place overall also kept Okanogan from sneaking past us on the back end.”
Brooks also pointed to personal record performances by Kyler Mitchell and Tristan Hover, as well as a pack of runners that also included Tristan and Jackson Schmekel as key to holding the second position in team placings, assuring the Mountain Lion boys of extending their streak of state appearances.
Joining Albright for the Mountain Lions will be a really young contingent, including junior Sandra Hernandez, who placed 4th overall, sophomore Zoe Kaltenbach (6th place), and eighth-graders Ingrid Venable, Juniper Dickson and Yasmin Moore. “They all raced incredibly well,” said Brooks.
“Each runner was in a relative battle with close competition from other teams, and some impressive finishing kicks rounded off an overall excellent day racing,” Brooks said. “Of note especially were Leki’s comeback toughness, Zoe’s dogged persistence with the Tri-Cities Prep No. 2 runner and the resulting 5K PR, and a similar massive new PR for Ingrid Venable.”
District 5 schools did not have a complete team entered in the girls’ combined district this year, although Warden did have a full team earlier this season. Tri Cities Prep qualified all three of their female runners for state.
The boys’ district race was solely a District 6 contest as District 5 schools elected to stay home and run their own event at Apple Ridge, just west of Yakima, a move which ensured two District 5 teams would qualify for state. Besides the full Bears and Mountain Lion teams, Bridgeport, Okanogan and Tonasket will also have runners in the Pasco field on Saturday.
Soccer girls split in Districts
Bridgeport became the latest victim in Liberty Bell’s late-season revitalization as the Mountain Lions beat the Fillies, 1-0, in the first round of District 6 post-season play.
It was the fourth win in the last five matches for the Liberty Bell girls and the second time in the past week the girls flipped the results of an earlier loss.
Freshman Marit Nelson continued to pepper the opponent’s goal, getting a shot to penetrate the Bridgeport goal midway through the second half for the only tally of the match. Offensive control of the ball, tempo and field position were the name of the game for the 5th-seeded Lions, mixed with a little luck. The Fillies missed on a penalty kick that could have tied the match at 1 apiece.
The euphoria of a playoff win was quickly set aside as the girls traveled to Okanogan to take on the state No. 1 state Bulldogs. Okanogan again got the best of the younger Liberty Bell squad, shutting the door on the goal and Mountain Lions, 9-0.
The season doesn’t end, though, as Liberty Bell has two contests left in District play. They travel to Quincy on Wednesday (Nov. 2) to face Brewster at 4 p.m. for seeding while Okanogan and Tonasket play for the District title at 6 p.m. On Saturday (Nov. 5), the four teams from District 6 will tangle in a one-day, single match with District 7 schools to determine which four teams move on to the 12-team state tournament.
The current District 7 bracket has No. 1 NW Christian-Colbert playing No. 2 St. George’s in their title match, with neighborly rivals No. 3 Davenport and No. 4 Reardan tangling for the third and fourth seeds into the crossover.
For Liberty Bell, they will travel on Saturday, regardless of the result of Wednesday’s match with Brewster. If the Mountains lose to the Bears, they will play at either St. George’s or Northwest Christian. A win will put them up against either Davenport or Reardan, probably also on the road.
Mountain Lions advance in playoffs
Liberty Bell returned to action after a restful and healing bye week to pound the Waterville-Mansfield Shockers, 80-12, in a District 6 first-round playoff football game at Waterville Friday night (Oct. 28).
The Mountain Lions, playing as an independent this year after being rejected by the Central Washington B League, entered the District 6 playoff as the No. 3 seed, and set out to prove that they are the top dog in Central Washington 8-man football. They did so, in convincing fashion.
Liberty Bell jumped out early on the CWB’s No. 2 seed into Districts, and dominated the game from the outset. The Washington high school mercy rule was put into effect in the second quarter of the game when Liberty Bell achieved a 40-point lead prior to halftime.
The Mountain Lions rolled up 518 yards of total offense, 342 passing and 176 on the ground. Leading passer was senior quarterback Riley Lidey who hit on 17 of 25 attempts for 321 yards, including 8 touchdowns. Freshman Remy Paz threw one pass that went for 21 yards and a touchdown. The two passers also each ran for a touchdown as Liberty Bell rolled to 10 penetrations of the Waterville end zone, as many touchdowns as anyone can recall by the Liberty Bell program.
Sophomore Lucien Paz returned to the lineup after sitting out two games, leading the defense with 9 solo tackles, as well as leading the offense with 70 rushing yards and 142 receiving yards, scoring 2 touchdowns. Sawyer Crandall and Remy Paz each hauled in 3 touchdown catches, Crandall responsible for 114 receiving yards.
“I really don’t like winning in such lopsided games like this, said Coach Jeff Lidey, “but we are in the post-season now, and our RPI ranking is partially determined by wins and point spreads.”
The Mountain Lions will host one playoff game coming up this Friday (Nov. 4). The Inchelium Hornets travel to the Methow Valley for the first round of the District crossover. With a season record of 5-4, the Hornets are coming off an 84-12 first round loss to state No. 1 Odessa, looking to upset the favored Mountain Lions.
A special kickoff time of 3:30 p.m. is set for the Friday afternoon game. As it is a playoff, there will be an admission fee for this game.
Spikers rest up for Districts
While the district post-season action around Liberty Bell has been rather frenetic these past few days, the volleyball girls have been resting and practicing, getting ready for the first round of play, which happened Tuesday after the News went to print.
They were headed to Brewster Tuesday evening for a single-elimination match between the No. 6 seeded Mountain Lions and No. 3 seeded Bears. With a win in the first round, the Mountain Lions will advance on to Thursday’s second round match at No. 2 Okanogan. The District 6 finals are on Saturday.