Mountain Lions runners Dexter Delaney and Leki Albright both led from wire-to-wire to take individual titles at this year’s Liberty Bell Invitational Cross Country Meet held Saturday (Oct. 7) at the Sean McCabe Trails on the Methow Valley School District campus.
Delaney, a junior, broke away at the start and was in total control on his way to shattering the course record he set last year in the boys’ varsity 5-kilometer race.
Albright, a senior, also broke from the pack, although Brewster’s senior Kaydence Carrington stayed within shouting range for much of the race, falling back in the second half while battling an Achilles tendon inflammation issue that has bugged her all season long. Carrington still placed alone in 2nd followed by Mountain Lion senior Sandra Hernandez.
Liberty Bell’s Alida Burt was 6th, Ingrid Venable 7th, Nella Belcher 9th and Yasmin Moore 19th. The Mountain Lion girls won the team title, scoring a meet low 22 points. Republic finished 2nd with 48 pints and Manson was 3rd at 52. Only three teams had the requisite five scoring runners in the 25-racer field.
Delaney was smooth and strong in his record run, covering the 3.1 miles in 15:52. Teammate Will Halpin came home in 2nd place, 1:02 behind, Aksel Thomson placed 16th, Tristan Hover and Kyler Mitchell were in 32nd and 33rd, respectively, and Sam Kaltenbach placed 36th. Liberty Bell’s seventh and final scoring runner was Brodi Barber in 37th place.
The boys’ JV for Liberty Bell included George Chavez-Hernandez in 38th, Liam Kiefer in 50th, Orlo Parkinson 61st, Hunter Wolak 65th, Benji Northey 68th, Finn Dickson 84th, Omar Ortega 87th and Calvin Simmons in 94th.
The boys and girls swept the middle school races. In the boys’ race, eighth-grader Soren Decuir led from the start, but had company in Republic’s Ashton Glidden, Tonasket’s Jesse Velasquez-Garcia and Luis Macedo of Bridgeport through the early stages. By the 1-mile mark on the 1.5-mile course, Decuir had pulled away, eventually winning by 17 seconds over Gliddon. Mountain Lions sixth-grader Thorsen Yahraes crossed 10th, sixth-grader Preston Irvine took 12th place. Eighth-grade classmates River Ferguson and Luke Gatlin were 13th and 14th, and sixth-graders Hudson Brandenburg and Tye Schafer were 16th and 18th, completing their scoring team and cruising to a 34-point total, ahead of Tonasket’s 53 and Okanogan’s 71.
The middle school girls saw a familiar sight with sixth-grader Lean Decuir edging her classmate Karen Brewer in a tight battle all the way. Camilla Maldonado of Brewster was a close 3rd place, Gariella Gliddon of Republic was one their heels, 2 seconds back in fourth, Liberty Bell runner Sammy DeSalvo was 5th, eighth-grader Anja Merkens was 8th, eighth-grader Maren Sands placed 10th, and Tova Slostad and Nina Halpin taook 12th and 13th, respectively, to close out the scoring team for the junior Mountain Lions.
For the most part, it was a beautiful day for the run, although by the time the varsity races hit the course, the temperature had climbed into the mid-70s. Delaney had said that it was a little warmer than he would have liked, and the heat did noticeably affect several runners.
“I felt good about my race today,” said Delaney. “I wanted to improve my 5K time and did just a little from last week,” referring to the Nike Twilight event. “We were able to do that, but it would be better if it were a little cooler.”
Among the field of nearly 400 runners and 24 schools was a contingent of boys from Rogers High School in Spokane. Coach Chris Palmer said that they like to take the boys on an overnight trip once a year and discovered the Liberty Bell meet on a day where they needed a run for the boys.
“Erik [Brooks, the Liberty Bell coach] and everybody has been so nice,” said parent John Fulcher. The boys were hosted by the Mountain Lions Friday night for a dinner and some social time. Palmer reported they were really capturing the rural lifestyle away from their north Spokane neighborhood in the Hillyard District of the Lilac City.
“I had to laugh,” Palmer reported, “when last night one of the boys came into the hotel and said ‘Wow! The sky is so clear you can see stars up there.’”
“We get the kids out on the road at least once a season so they can see how other people live, what they do and enjoy life away from the city,” Palmer said. “The parents raise money for the entire program so kids, especially the ones who want to run but can’t afford, can do so. We buy their shoes, food and other equipment.”
On Oct. 28, the Central Washington B schools return to Liberty Bell for the district qualifier for state. The meet will determine which teams and individual will head to Pasco in Pasco on the first Saturday in November.
Mountain Lions in shootout win
Junior goalkeeper Cassidy Jones-Mowen stopped two overtime shootout penalty kicks and sophomore midfielder Marit Nelson added yet another hat-trick to her growing collection to lead the Liberty Bell Mountain Lions past the Bridgeport Fillies, 5-4, on Thursday night (Oct. 5) in Central Washington B League girls’ soccer.
For Jones-Mowen, the backup net-minder for the Mountain Lions, it was her best effort so far as she fills in for starter Lilly Belcher, who is still sidelined by a concussion sustained almost two weeks ago at Tonasket.
“We’ve been working with her on looking for signs and anticipating where the ball is going to go,” said assistant coach Andrew Nelson. That emphasis and a short pre-shootout sideline conversation with Jones-Mowen paid off in the post-overtime period.
“He [Nelson] reminded me about how to tell where the ball is headed and I focused on that,” Jones-Mowen said.
Both saves she made in the shootout turned out to be straight-on shots. But senior defender Rosa Hernandez placed her Filly attempt into the upper left-hand corner of the net, a quality shot that Jones-Mowen just couldn’t get to.
Interspersed between those shots, Mountain Lion kickers Marit Nelson, who scored both Liberty Bell goals in the second period, punched one past the Bridgeport goalie, and sophomore Olive Frady also slammed one into the net for a 2-1 lead in the overtime. Andri Macedo sent her shot wide right of the goal and Mountain Lion Gabby Studen followed, ripping a shot into the twines for a 3-1 shootout lead.
The save of the game came when Bridgeport’s Elisa Garcia fired a hard liner on center and high. Jones-Mowen jumped to tip the ball, sending it harmlessly just over the top of the crossbar into the darkness behind the east goal, clinching the tie-breaker and the win for Liberty Bell.
“The girls had great spirit and lots of hunger out there tonight,” said head coach Katie Overbeck. “We showed a lot more confidence in ourselves.”
Overbeck felt the best part of the game was offensive passing and ball control. “Our girls controlled the ball a lot, passing and moving it around,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been working on and it was good to see it working well.”
Of Jones-Mowen in the net, Nelson said “She has grown so much in the past two weeks.” Observing her final save, he said, “Two weeks ago she might not have made that save. Tonight, she did.”
Saturday’s non-league trip to Cascade High School in Leavenworth was canceled at Liberty Bell’s request because of the injury-induced depleted numbers on the Mountain Lion bench.
Football win at DeSales
The Liberty Bell Mountain Lions combined a second half offensive onslaught with a clamped down defense to break a 14-14 early third-quarter tie to defeat the 4th-ranked DeSales Fighting Irish, 36-14, in Walla Walla on Friday night (Oct. 6).
It was the Paz-to-Paz show as sophomore quarterback Lucien found brother Remington for touchdown passes of 25, 18 and 22 yards, found senior Brody Barnhart on a beautifully thrown 30-yard touchdown pass, and ran for one of his own to pull away and win on the road.
Liberty Bell opened the game with a 10-play, 3 minute, 30 second, 80-yard touchdown drive, mostly on the ground combining runs by the two elder Paz brothers. Lucien found Remington on a 25-yard, third-down pass for six points and Lucien called his own number on a quarterback run for the 2-point conversion to go up 8-0.
DeSales took the ball on the ensuing kickoff and went on a time-consuming drive that ate up the rest of the 8:30 seconds of the first quarter, and slopped over into the second period. Some 20 plays later, with some stellar defense and help from DeSales penalties, the Mountain Lions stopped the drive and took possession after an emphatic third-down sack by Alex Ramsay-George and an incomplete fourth-down pass on the Liberty Bell 38 yard line.
The Mountain Lions threatened to break the game open early, but a short pass from Paz off a scramble that turned into a long gainer was called back on a blocking penalty. Liberty Bell turned the ball over on downs after penetrating Irish territory.
DeSales turned that series into a touchdown, the point after conversion failing, to make the score 8-6 in Liberty Bell’s favor. After the DeSales kickoff, the Irish defense stifled the Liberty Bell offense, holding them to a three-and-out punt, a rarity this season for the powerful Mountain Lion offense. Lucien Paz then “flipped the field” with a monster 48-yard punt and set the Irish back on their own side of midfield.
The Mountain Lion defense held DeSales to a three-and-out, and the Irish turned the ball over back to the Mountain Lions with 3:07 to go in the half.
Two minutes later, Lucien found Remington on an 18-yard strike for the touchdown and a 14-6 lead going into halftime.
Coach Jeff Lidey called for the onside kick to open the second half, setting DeSales up near midfield. Eight plays and 55 yards later, the Irish were in the end zone on a quarterback keeper and tied the game at 14 with a successful dash for the 2-point conversion 3:18 into the third period. From that point on, it was mostly all Liberty Bell as the offense wound up and the defense clamped down.
The Mountain Lions took over at their 25-yard line after a Yolo Paz kickoff return. Lucien hit Brody Barnhart with a long pass-run combination that was augmented by a late hit on the Liberty Bell quarterback. A short running play and a 30-yard strike to Barnhart for the touchdown with successful PAT and it was 22-14 with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Bend, but don’t break is a mantra in football, and that was the Liberty Bell theme the rest of the way. DeSales penetrated deep into Mountain Lion territory on the next drive but freshman Yolo Paz deflected a fourth-down pass from the Liberty Bell 7 yard line to stop the next Irish drive with 1:44 on the third-quarter clock.
From there, Lucien Paz guided the Mountain Lions on a 14-play, 5 minute, 30 second drive that ended with a quarterback sneak for the touchdown and 28-14 lead with 8:16 to go in the game.
DeSales was forced to abandon their running game and the Mountain Lions began to focus on pressuring the quarterback, forcing incomplete passes and a quick series that ended in Irish territory at the 35 yard line. Six plays later Remington Paz hauled in his third touchdown reception of the game, a 22-yarder from Lucien for the final score, 36-14, and that was that.
The Irish put together one last gasp, driving from the 5 yard line after a botched return attempt of the Liberty Bell kickoff, driving most of the length of the field to the Mountain Lion 5. Freshman Greyden Paz tackled an Irish runner for a loss, Ramsay-George added a sack, and an incomplete pass gave the Mountain Lions the ball on their own 20 yard line and the ability to take a knee and run out the clock.
It’s another week off for Liberty Bell before they entertain Chewelah’s Jenkins High School in an 11-man game on Saturday, Oct. 21, kickoff at 3:30 p.m. Liberty Bell could host a first-round playoff game on or around Oct. 27-28.
Bears get revenge in volleyball
In an unusual back-to-back, home-and-home series, the Brewster Bears repaid the Liberty Bell Mountain Lions last Thursday night with a 3-2 match victory on their home court. Set scores for the match were 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21, 12-15.
“We went toe-to-toe, punch-for-punch against Brewster,” said head coach Beth Blank. “Had the last set been longer, we would have won, but they dealt the last decisive blows with their effective outside hitter.”
The Mountain Lions have a three-match week this week, having played Tuesday evening (Oct. 10) at home versus Oroville, then a road game to No. 1 Manson on Thursday (Oct. 12), and a Saturday (Oct. 14) matinee at Liberty Bell with the Lake Roosevelt Raiders. Match time is 12:30 p.m., with JV at 11 a.m.