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Winter sports created memorable moments
"I've been hunkered down the last few days, trying to ride out the winter sports storm.It's a weather front that set in a few weeks ago, about the time the Oak Harbor wrestling team went to Districts at Cascade High School. The howling wind of this storm has carried me to the Mountlake Terrace High School gym three times for Coupeville basketball Tri-Districts, to the Tacoma Dome for the Mat Classic, and - don't bother trying to reach me if you're reading this on Wednesday or Thursday - back to the Tacoma Dome to cover the Coupeville girls basketball team at the 1A State Tournament this week.I don't think my boss will be thrilled when he sees my mileage reimbursement report, but hey, when an Oak Harbor or Coupeville team makes it into the playoffs, then the state tournament, well, that's big news. The News-Times needs to be there.For me, it's one of those moments when my job seems like a wonderful scam. After all, getting paid to cover high school sporting events is not a bad gig, really. But I won't rub it in.This lull before the state basketball tournament also happens to be the first week of practice for spring sports. Baseball and softball mitts are dusted off. Tennis rackets are pulled from the closet. Track sneakers are lifted from the shoe rack.So spring sports are coming, as sure as daffodils. But I've found myself in the last few days reflecting on what I've just witnessed from local athletes this winter. Brian Lang finishing third in the state in his weight class at Mat Classic is something I'm not going to forget. Some of the wrestlers at Mat Classic sport tattoos, fresh mohawk haircuts, or other signs of Attitude with a big A. Brian seems like a nice guy, pretty modest, straightforward. And I'm warning you all not to mess with Brian, because what he showed on the mat in the Tacoma Dome was truly remarkable mental toughness.The same can be said for the other Oak Harbor participants at Mat Classic - Danny Wichers, Brian's cousin Brent Lang, and David Farmer. It's not possible to understate their accomplishments.And it's not always winning that makes a memory. I know the players on the Oak Harbor boys basketball team would have liked to have won more games. But the Wildcats played with heart all year, which is the bottom line in life. Congrats to the seniors - Garret Stone, Eric Collins, Duse Dronen, Jeremy Morgan, Jay Hartman, Bryce Salter, Brett Waller, Eric Marshall, Michael Brabner and Nick Fulwiler.Ditto for the Oak Harbor girls team, which fell just shy of posting a .500 record for the year. The seniors: Patricia Tokarek, Denis Stanalonis, Sarah Matzen, Christina Gabler, Sara Jackets and Joyce Santiago.The Oak Harbor boys swim team worked hard this season. Seniors Drew Meuer and Eric Sullivan were standouts.And what more can I say about the Coupeville boys basketball team? Those guys developed a sense of teamwork that nearly carried them to the state tournament this season. It's tough to watch a team like Concrete go on to state, when I know the Wolves are better.As for the Coupeville girls basketball team, stay tuned.One last word: I had the opportunity to meet Jack Kerr last week. He just wrapped up a 32-year career as a wrestling coach in Oak Harbor middle schools, and recently won an award as the top middle school wrestling coach in the region.That's one of the other perks of my sports editor job. I get to sit down and chat with positive, outstanding human beings like Jack Kerr."