Liberty Bell High School track and field saw another set of personal records and solid performances during their second consecutive trip to Ephrata, this time for the 2023 Ray Cross Invitational.
Coach Erik Brooks reported that 19 Mountain Lion Athletes set personal bests at under changing conditions, typical for mid-March.
Top 10 placings: Fischer Edwards, 3rd, javelin 148 feet, 11 inches, PR; Isaiah Stoothoff, 2nd, high jump, 5 feet 8 inches; Sandra Hernandez, 9th, 400 meters; Marit Nelson, 8th, 1,600M, 5:55, PR, and 9th, 800M, 2:43.38, PR; Leki Albright 9th, 1,600M, 5:55.66; Liberty Bell girls, 4th, 4x400M relay, 4:41.62.
Other personal records set on the boys’ side included Zack Baldwin in the 100M, Holden Riggs in the 200M and shot put; Kyler Mitchell and Tristan Hover in the 800M, Tristan Hover in the 1,600M, Damien Spears in the discus and Fischer Edwards and Morgan Spellman in the javelin.
The girls also set some PR’s including Nella Belcher in the 100M and shot put, Audrey Roman and Nina Kominak in the 200M, and Valeria Huitron in the shot put.
Maybe most notably, Lucy Riggs, the Liberty Bell freshman stricken with leukemia over a year ago, returned to action, setting personal records in the discus and the javelin.
Brooks, like every other Liberty Bell coach this week, expressed pleasure at his athletes being able to access a real facility. “Another solid, early-season meet where we got some more practice on actual runways and grass,” said Brooks.
The Mountain Lions travel to Oroville this Thursday (March 30) where the Hornets will welcome athletes onto their brand new track surface. Oroville will also be the site of the district/state qualifier meet on May 17.
Breakouts at Ice Breaker
Several Liberty Bell competitors set some strong early-season performance marks at the Ice Breaker track and field meet in Ephrata on March 14.
Senior Zack Baldwin, in his first attempt at shot, put threw the rock 30 feet, 5.5 inches to place 21st in a field of 57 contestants, and was 4th among the 1B and 2B athletes. Junior Kyler Mitchell placed 7th in the 400-meter run with a time of 59.16 and was 2nd among the B schools. Holden Riggs and George Chavez-Hernandez both set personal bests in the 100M dash. Damien Spears set a personal best in the discus and Omar Ortega made the top half of the field with a throw of 68 feet, 6 inches.
Fischer Edwards placed 2nd and set a personal best in the javelin of 145 feet, eight inches. Morgan Spellman also opened the season with a personal best at 121 feet, 5 inches on his way to a 7th place throw. Ortega and Spears also set PRs in the javelin.
On the girls’ side, freshman Nella Belcher began her season with a top-half placing in the 100M and 200M dashes, Sandra Hernandez placed 2nd in the 400M, and freshman Marit Nelson surprised with a sub-6-minute (5:59) 1,600M and 2nd place overall. Junior Leki Albright was 4th in 6:07. Sophomore Rio Lott took a 2nd-place finish in the javelin with a throw of 87 feet, 5 inches in her first meet as a Mountain Lion.
Coach Erik Brooks was very pleased with this first meet of 2023, pointing to 19 personal bests, and singling out Holden Riggs. “Holden Riggs gets special consideration for setting new personal bests in all three of his events, the 100M, 200M and the shot put,” the coach said, “especially remarkable since he competed in these same three events in almost every meet last season.”
Liberty Bell had 22 athletes compete; of those, nine were competing in their first meet.
Tennis starts strong
Liberty Bell’s tennis team has started the season on a positive note, playing well in their first four meets of 2023.
Mountain Lion boys pair senior Connor Herlihy and junior Gannet Fisher have yet to lose a match, running their winning streak to four after convincing wins over teams from Okanogan 6-1, 6-2 and Entiat 6-1, 6-0 this past week.
Gavin Blank split partners this past week, teaming with Sunny Rickenbaugh to shut out their Entiat opponents 8-0. Blank joined with Levin Lott to skate by Okanogan in a 9-7 pro set.
In singles, Nathan Buck picked up two wins over Okanogan and Entiat while EZ Kirk and Angel Arellano both split matches, Angel playing well in a 6-1 6-4 win over the Tigers’ Karson Cole and Kirk picking up a 6-1, 6-3 match win over Tyler Marshall of Okanogan.
Senior Ellie Blank’s return to the courts has been delayed by a lagging knee issue, but Coach Dave Schulz is optimistic about a fairly quick return. Blank, a senior, is still feeling some residual issues with The team headed to Pateros on Monday (March 27). They will travel to Manson on Wednesday (March 29), then enjoy a break. A pair of matches open the home season on Monday, April 10, versus Oroville; and Wednesday, April 12, with the Lake Roosevelt Raiders. Both matches open at 4 p.m.
Baseball looks for win
Liberty Bell’s baseball team has gotten off to a slow start, going 0-3 in their first three games. After dropping a tight 5-3 decision at Cashmere in the season opener, the Mountain Lions headed for Manson and their initial CW2B League game last Tuesday. The Trojans came out on top 10-7, a game that Coach David Aspholm described as not one for the books.
“They are a much improved team,” said Aspholm of the Trojans. The Mountain Lions, still working off the late winter bugs, were showing the effects of not being on a real field at that point with several fielding errors.
It was onto Chelan on Saturday for a date with the Goats, and a little cleaner game. Still, the Liberty Bell boys found themselves on the short end of a 9-4 score. Liberty Bell made some noise in the seventh inning with two runs.
The boys have been busy applying some elbow grease to their home field, with hand shoveling and wheelbarrow transport of the lingering winter blanket on the infield. On Monday, Activities Director Michael Wilbur declared the field ready for play and Aspholm has his fingers crossed for good weather the rest of this week.
First home action for the Mountain Lions is a scheduled double-header at Liberty Bell this Friday as the Lake Roosevelt Raiders travel to the valley. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 2 p.m. The nightcap will start at about 4 p.m.
Softball heads home (maybe)
The Liberty Bell girls got their season underway with a pair of lopsided scores, losing at Cashmere 35-2 and winning at Manson 22-11. Like the rest of the Liberty Bell athletic programs, the trip to Cashmere was the first time the team got to see, much less play, on real grass and outdoors. The Bulldogs, a perennial powerhouse at the 1A level, were just too much for the young Mountain Lions, the game lasting only the requisite five innings under the 10-run mercy rule.
It was on to Manson for the first league game of the 2023 campaign. The Mountain Lions found their bats, locating pitches and taking the measure of the Trojans 22-11, the mercy rule playing in Liberty Bell’s favor this time.
Freshman McKenzie Sheppard and junior Bailey Thomson shared mound duty as the two gained some valuable early-season experience and appear to be in a competition for the starter role. Coach Chad Surface was pleased with the offensive effort.
“We had a good game offensively,” reported Surface. “Good base running with very few errors. Olive Frady had a great double play on a catch of a fly ball and a throw over to first to get the runner returning to first.”
Overall, the experience of playing on a real field was the main takeaway for the coach in the first two games. “We can’t wait to get on the field to practice and play,” said Surface.
On Monday we found them in the outfield shagging flies and working on basic fielding, the infield still covered mostly by melting snow with a lake around the shortstop-to-third-base portion.
The Mountain Lions are scheduled to host Lake Roosevelt on Friday for a double-header, beginning at 2 p.m. “We might be able to play on Friday,” Surface said. “I’m optimistic, but it still has a ways to go.” In the interim, the girls headed to Lake Roosevelt on Tuesday (March 28) for a single game and Chelan on Wednesday (March 29) for a non-league single with the Goats.
If you plan on attending, bring your walking shoes. Snow piles provide very little driving/parking space available at the softball field and “No Parking” signs have been posted in the right field area as the lawn, where visible, is quite damp. Best bet is to park at the east end of the high school and walk down from there.
Soccer wins first
Thursday (March 23) was a blustery and bleak day for the Mountain Lions, both weather-wise and on the pitch as they traveled to Okanogan for an afternoon match with the CW2B rival Bulldogs in their first league match of the 2023 season.
The Bulldogs used age and experience to overpower Liberty Bell, 7-0.
The Mountain Lions picked up their first win of the young season on Saturday in Omak with a 4-0 shutout of the Pioneers. Freshman goalkeeper Alex Ramsay-George had a breakout match, bagging the shutout behind a fairly stingy defense, according to head coach Mark Crum.
The Mountain Lions scored all four of their goals in the first half, allowing Crum to insert a number of players in the second half, clearing the bench and providing quality early season playing time for everyone on the roster.
Ben Kaufman managed to get two shots passed the Okanogan net minder, Bradyn Schmekel and Jayden Hammer picking up the other two tallies. Crum reported 17 Mountain Lion shots on goal as a marked improvement on offense from two earlier losses to go along with a staunch and improved defense.
Crum was upbeat after the Omak win. “The match at Omak gave us a chance to get all of our players some quality playing time.” he said. “We had 17 shots on goal and showed some big improvement on our first two games.”
Crum was quick to point to the defensive effort, crediting Ramsey-George with his “first shutout of the year,” indicating he expects even more great play from his freshman netminder, but also like what he saw from “a very strong defense.”
The Mountain Lions traveled to Oroville for a match Tuesday afternoon (March 28) with the Hornets and play at Tonasket on Thursday (March 30) before taking a week off for spring break. Their first home match is set for Tuesday, April 11, when they host the Brewster Bears, kickoff at 4:30 p.m.