Dexter Delaney sets district 3,200M record
Liberty Bell High School sophomore Dexter Delaney claimed the top spot in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200M runs in last Wednesday’s District 6 Track and Field championships at Oroville High School. His two victories led the way for the Mountain Lions, who qualified 11 athletes for the WIAA State Championships that open Thursday at Eisenhower High School in Yakima.
Senior Isaiah Stoothoff and juniors Leki Albright and Fischer Edwards brought home the other 1st-place medals at the district meet, Stoothoff in the long jump, Albright in the girls’ 3,200M and Edwards in the javelin. Kady Hammer earned 1st-place finishes in the 100M dash and shot put in the ambulatory class.
The top two District 6 placers in each event qualified for a trip to state this year, which added six more athletes to the Liberty Bell roster. Kyler Mitchell took 2nd place in the 400M run, Will Halpin was runner-up to Delaney in both the 1,600M and 3,200M runs, Marit Nelson took 2nd in the girls’ 800M and 1,600 runs, and the Mountain Lion girls 4x400M relay team took 2nd.
It was a day of celebration and remembrance for the Oroville athletic family, as they dedicated their new track facility and named it for recently passed teacher and multiple sport coach Harold Jensen.
The meet for Liberty Bell opened with Stoothoff’s victory in the long jump. His best attempt, 19 feet, 5 inches, was 11 inches beyond 2nd-place Kade Waite of Tonasket, and a new personal record for the Mountain Lion senior.
Albright was next with her win in the 3,200M. She passed Brewster’s Kaydence Carrington on the final corner of the last lap and pulled away in the last 100 meters. Carrington and Albright outdistanced the field early. Neither runner set personal marks in the race, but after the first lap it was clear the pair was going to be the two to represent District 6 in Yakima this weekend.
“Yeah, it was comfortable. I kinda think she (Carrington) was saving up for her later races,” Albright said. Carrington later would pick up two 1st places in the 800M and 1,600M runs. Still, it was a solid victory for the Mountain Lion junior, her second-fastest time of the year.
Delaney put in two solid performances in the 1,600M and 3,200M. His 4:33.12 in the 1,600M was his best of the 2023 season and just 2 seconds off his personal best. Teammate Will Halpin placed 2nd behind Delaney in both races, so the pair advance to Yakima this week. The 1,600M will be run Thursday afternoon and 3,200M is slated for late Saturday afternoon.
The 3,200M was the Delaney and Halpin show out of the gate. Delaney’s time of 10:11.7 set a new District 6 meet record by about 2 seconds. Halpin crossed at 10:45.
“It wasn’t my best race,” said Delaney with a shrug, “but it was good enough.” Delaney has been pursuing Ben Klemmeck’s 2016 Liberty Bell record of 9:51.36 in the 3,200M and Liam Daily’s 2014 1,600M record (4:29). He is currently in 2nd place in both events on the all-time Liberty Bell record board, trailing Klemmeck by 3.5 seconds and Daily by 2 seconds.
Junior javelin thrower Fischer Edwards took the top spot at Oroville with a throw of 144 feet, 9 inches. Edwards, still nursing a very sore middle finger on his throwing hand, was just good enough to edge Tonasket’s Jayton Caddy at 140 feet, 9 inches. Liberty Bell sophomore Morgan Spellman just missed a trip to state with a 139-foot throw, placing 3rd.
Freshman Marit Nelson took on Carrington in the 800M and 1,600M runs, pushing the Brewster junior to a personal record in the 800M (2:27.13). Nelson crossed the line just 2 seconds back. Those times were good enough to elevate the pair to No. 2 and No. 3 on the statewide performance list for 2023 in the 2B classification.
In the 1,600M, neither runner was able to crack the 6-minute mark, Carrington recording 6:03.35 and Nelson at 6:09.03.
If there was a mild surprise at this meet it might have been the Liberty Bell girls 4x400M relay team finishing 2nd behind Okanogan. Brewster had beaten the Mountain Lions by about 6 seconds in the league championships. The Mountain Lions turned the tables and nipped the Bears, barely, by about 1.5 seconds. The Liberty Bell quartet (Sandra Hernandez, Albright, Nelson and Audrey Roman) set their season best mark by 9 seconds.
Liberty Bell Coach Erik Brooks was impressed. “A blistering opening (63.4 seconds) leg by Sandra Hernandez, followed by Leki, Marit and Audrey with a 65.1, each girl having their fastest split of the year,” he said. Nina Kominak, a senior on the Liberty Bell 4x200M relay team, will travel to Yakima as the alternate on the 4x400M team.
Overall, Brooks was happy with how his charges performed. “There were lots of fine performances up in Oroville,” he said. “Some really rise-to-the-occasion performances.”
Brooks pointed to junior Aksel Thomson’s personal record 800M run and Morgan Spellman’s close call in the javelin. While both Mountain Lions placed 3rd and missed qualifying for state, it took personal records by their competitors to knock them out of qualification.
Indeed, Thomson set his own PR mark in the 800M, and Spellman’s javelin effort was one of his best. “In both cases, they competed well and put themselves in just the right place — only to be bested by lifetime best efforts in some very close competition,” Brooks said.
It’s not often that controversy rocks a high school track meet, but it came in the final event of the day, the boys’ 4x400M relay. Tonasket and Brewster were locked in a tight battle all the way through, and Liberty Bell crossed the line in 3rd. However, the finish line judges disqualified Brewster on a lane violation, which would bump Liberty Bell up to 2nd and qualify the Mountain Lions for state.
However, Liberty Bell was tagged for a violation for pacing a runner on the track and also disqualified. The two disqualifications elevated Okanogan to the 2nd-place finish and an invitation to the state meet.
This is a young team with only two seniors, but several could compete for podium positions. The state meet gets underway on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., with Mountain Lions in the boys’ javelin, boys’ 1,600M and girls’ 1,600M runs. Friday events run from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Meet schedule and live results are available at wiaa.com, follow links on the Tournament Central page.
Baseball all-league honors
Liberty Bell senior Sawyer Crandall led the list of six Liberty Bell Mountain Lions on this year’s Central Washington 2B All-League Baseball team. Crandall, who spent most of his final year playing left field, gained attention through his sterling defensive play, and was an offensive threat as well.
Crandall’s stats were impressive. His batting average was about .340, according to Coach David Aspholm, and his on base percentage was .456. He scored 19 runs and was a perfect 16-16 stealing bases, leading the team in swipes.
“But those are just offensive categories,” said Aspholm. “He was an amazing outfielder, one of the best Liberty Bell has had.”
“Sawyer learned from a long list of other super dedicated athletes and citizens from Liberty Bell,” the coach continued, “and then moved that work ethic forward. He showed up early, stayed late, built up his strength (and durability) over the years, was always there to help even in the off-season. He is just a guy that you can always count on.”
Crandall leads by example off the field, too. A leader on campus in the Key Club and other organizations, he shows up regularly for community events as a volunteer, often times helping the local Kiwanis of Winthrop with their fundraising and service projects.
Sophomore pitcher, first baseman and catcher Damon Alumbaugh, sophomore shortstop and pitcher Lucien Paz and freshman utility player Jake Grady were named to the All-League Second Team. Freshman center fielder Remington Paz and sophomore third baseman Mac Surface earned Honorable Mention.
Just missing state
Eighth-grader Kara McMillan and junior exchange student Claudia Gomez advanced to one match win away from state in the District 6 CWB tennis tournament, where both lost their double-elimination matches on Wednesday (May 17), ending their season and closing the book on the Liberty Bell tennis program for 2023.
The two girls were the last remaining Mountain Lions advancing through the tourney after wins the week before during the two-week event at Manson’s Harmony Meadows Tennis Club. McMillan lost her first match with Caroline Zoretic of Pateros 4-6, 1-6, then dropped her elimination match to Liberty Linklater of Okanogan. Gomez’s two match losses were to girls from Tonasket and Manson. Both Zoretic and Linklater emerged from the District 6 girls’ tournament to play at state in Yakima this weekend.
The doubles team of EZ Kirk and Gavin Blank were the only boys to advance to last Tuesday’s district tournament at Chelan. They lost their first match to Harrison Hyer and Isaac Dearle of Quincy, 2-6, 1-6, then lost in the consolation bracket to Manson’s Jude Peterson and Eli Willard, 7-6, 2-6, 3-6.
The district tournament was the last for seniors Herlihy and Kirk. Coach Dave Schulz was pleased with the team’s effort over the season, even with the disappointment of not moving forward to state.
“We had a very good season and the boys were right there at the top,” said Schulz. “The girls (McMillan and Gomez) really played well. Kara and Claudia each lost to a very good player. I was pleased with them playing so well.”