Oak Harbor, Coupeville high schools name Athletes of the Year

Athlete of the Year awards, the highest individual honor presented by the local schools, were announced by the Oak Harbor and Coupeville high school athletic departments last week.

In Oak Harbor, seniors Jessica Denmon, an energetic worker, and Matt Bolte, a noted leader, received the honor.

In Coupeville, senior Megan Smith cemented her legacy as one of the school’s all-time female athletes by winning the award for the third straight year. Senior Jason Bagby, an outstanding all-around athlete, and junior Tyler King, one of the state’s premier distance runners, shared the male Athlete of the Year honor.

Jessica Denmon

Denmon was a three-year varsity letter winner in cross country and particiapated in the state meet last fall.

She earned two varsity letters in track.

Eric Peterson, who coached Denmon in cross country and track, said, “Jessica Denmon was a key part in the Oak Harbor girls cross country team qualifying for the state meet this year. As you know, every person scores in cross country and Jessica was a solid and reliable contributor ... A team is only as solid as their foundation and Jessica is a great foundation and example for younger athletes. She really adds a great dynamic to the team with her trademark Denmon smile and work ethic.”

While Denmon was an outstanding runner, she really shined on the basketball court where she was a four-year starter. The 5-6 guard led the Western Conference North in scoring this year with a 19.8 average and earned her second straight first-team all-league selection.

She was a second-team all-Wesco player as a sophomore and honorable mention as a freshman.

Denmon helped lead the Wildcats to four straight post season appearances and finished as one of the school’s leading scorers. Her 37-point effort against Kentridge last winter was the second highest single game total in school history.

Denmon was co-captain of the 2010 squad and received the team’s Unshakeable Award.

Varsity basketball coach Brett McLeod said, “Jessica Denmon was one of the hardest workers that we ever had in the basketball program. She was always trying to make herself a better player, and especially was a pure shooter that worked a countless number of hours on perfecting her shot. She also was competitive and relentless on other areas of the game like defense and rebounding. She truly became a complete basketball player by the end of her senior year.

“Along with that competitive spirit that made her great on the basketball court, she also served the community by teaching at our basketball camps, led her teammates by being a great example as a captain, she was a fun person that attracted a lot of friends and she was a committed student.”

Matt Bolte

Bolte was a three-year letterman in cross country, swimming and track. His talent in the sports arena was matched, if not passed, by his character and leadership, according to his coaches.

In cross country he was selected team captain and received the Coach’s Award.

In swimming, besides qualifying for state two years in a row and helping Oak Harbor place sixth in the 200 medley relay this year, he was again the team captain and recipient of the Coach’s Award and Most Inspirational Award.

In track he earned second team all-Wesco in the 800 and was named Oak Harbor’s Most Valuable Male Runner.

Peterson said, “More important than times, Matt has been a leader for the cross country and track teams with incredible work ethic and character. He could be trusted to run the team practice and always be a good example for the younger athletes. This track season he really started to come into his own and develop as a runner.”

Swim coach Amy Nurvic said Bolte started swimming his sophomore year and set a goal to be able to swim the butterfly “without embarrassing himself.” By the end of his junior season he was participating in the state meet.

Nurvic pointed out that Bolte also helped promote the swim program and recruited heavily. He even worked with some kids at lap swims at the public pool prior to the start of his senior season.

She said, “Our team thrived under his leadership...Many new swimmers reported being recruited by Matt Bolte and really felt that he wanted them to be a part of the team. He welcomed all our new swimmers and underclassmen (half the team consisted of freshmen) to the sport in such a way that they were motivated and inspired to learn how to swim competitively and dedicate themselves to the team.”

Bolte, who has a 3.67 grade point average, was also chosen as Oak Harbor High School’s winner of the Cliff Gillies and U.S. Marine Corps Distinquished Athlete awards.

Megan Smith

Megan Smith will graduate as one of most dominate female athletes in Coupeville school history and the only girl to win the Athlete of the Year honor three times.

Smith was a three-year lettermen in soccer, and this year she was team captain and won the Midfielder of the Year Award.

In basketball, Smith was a four-year varsity letter winner and three-year starter. Twice she was chosen for the all-Cascade Conference first team; she was second team her sophomore year. This year she was fifth in the Cascade Conference in scoring with a 13.2 average.

Smith helped the Wolves post a 12-11 record and come within one game of reaching the tri-distirct tournament.

After her sophomore season, she was selected to play in an all-state game for the area’s best underclassmen.

Smith was the Wolves’ team captain each of the past two years.

In softball Smith earned four varsity letters and was second-team all-league her junior season. This year she missed a chunk of the season with a shoulder injury but still managed to hit .351.

Softball coach Denny Zylstra said, “She’s a good athlete, a very hard worker and went along with the program. She was one of my captains and a good leader. The other kids looked up to her; I never heard anything bad come out of her mouth.”

Jason Bagby

Jason Bagby was one of the Cascde Conference’s most accomplisheded all-around athletes.

A two-year starter at quarterback, Bagby threw for 1,232 yards last year after tossing for nearly 1,000 his junior season.

In basketball he was a two-year starter and three-year letterman. This season he was a first-team all-Cascade Conference selection and led the Wolves to second place in the conference, finishing ahead of six 2A schools, and a 16-5 season record. He was eighth in the league in scoring, averaging 13.9 points per game.

Basketball coach Randy King said, “Jason played the whole season with a confidence that was built on the work that he put into his game. I know high school sports aren’t really work, but the effort that Jason put into developing his game, his willingness to accept coaching and his generally positive outlook paid off with a great basketball season. Another positive for him is his ability to work with our team. It never was about Jason, it was always about our team.”

Bagby was a three-year baseball letterman and earned second-team all-league honors as a pitcher his sophomore year.

His senior season was cut short by shoulder surgery that limited him to four games; he hit .400 in the short stint.

King added, “He has always been one to help with community programs such as youth basketball clinics. He has been a leader in athletics for his grade level all the way through high school and I felt he just stepped that up this year in football and basketball.”

Tyler King

Tyler King has become the state’s premier 1A distance runners and one of its best regardless of classification.

Several weeks ago he captured the 1A state championship in the 1,600 and 3,200 and finished second in the 800. He placed in the 1,600 and 3,200 as a sophomore and freshman as well.

King holds the Coupeville school record for the 1,600 (4.15:28) and 800 (1.55:34).

He doesn’t shy from competition. He applied for, and was accepted to run in, the Portland Track Festival Mile, which featured many of the nation’s top school-boy distance runners. He placed 11th in the June 12 race and first among the four Washington state juniors who competed.

He has been the Cascade Conference champion in the three distance events each of the past two years.

In cross country, King competes for Oak Harbor because Coupeville does not have a team. He placed fifth in the state 4A meet last fall, and his time was 30 seconds faster than the winning mark in the 1A race. He is a two-time Wesco North champion and has qualified for state three times.

Peterson said, “One of things that makes Tyler such a great athlete is his ability and willingness to tolerate pain. Tyler can focus in and push to the limits of his body in the pursuit of greatness.”

In the winter, King competes for the Wolves’ basketball team where he excels as a playmaker and defensive stopper.

King’s father, Randy, is his varsity coach in basketball and track. Coach King said, “Ty’s cross-country results and track times are really a result of great commitment to his sport.  Ty was an important part of our varsity basketball team; he always plays with great energy and listens to his coach!”

Assistant track coach Jackie Bykonen said, “I am in my first year of teaching at Coupeville High School, and right off the bat was impressed by Tyler. He shows a tremendous work ethic whether it be towards athletics, his school work or extra activities such as the exec board.

“He also has a respectful and positive relationship with those he competes with, whether it be through running or basketball. It’s not all about winning for Tyler, but more about being a well-rounded individual towards not only his competitors, but also his peers, teachers and coaches.

Tyler King excels outside of athletics as well. He served the past two years as a member of Coupeville High School ASB executive board and is a member of National Honor Society.  Like Bagby,  he has helped out for several years with youth basketball clinics.

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