Henry Wynn, left, and Danny Conlisk take a break during a cross country workout in 2016. The pair ignited a renewed interested in the sport at Coupeville High School. (Photo by Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times)

Henry Wynn, left, and Danny Conlisk take a break during a cross country workout in 2016. The pair ignited a renewed interested in the sport at Coupeville High School. (Photo by Jim Waller/Whidbey News-Times)

Coupeville High School restarts program / Cross Country

Renewed interest in the sport and the support of the school district spurred the return of the cross country program at Coupeville middle and high schools this fall.

Cross country was eliminated about 20 years ago because of a lack of interest and financial reasons.

Much of the credit for the rebirth goes to Coupeville’s Henry Wynn, who graduated last spring, and rising senior Danny Conlisk.

Two years ago the pair decided they wanted to run cross country and trained and competed with South Whidbey High School. Last fall, Wynn’s younger brother, Sam, joined the group.

Seeing that commitment, Coupeville athletic director Willie Smith ran a survey in the spring of 2017 to gauge overall interest.

“We had quite a bit of interest at the middle school level and enough high school interest to warrant looking at the cost/feasibility of starting a program back up,” Smith said.

Last winter, Smith held a meeting to “see visible bodies to determine if there was viable interest or if kids were just marking yes on a survey.”

Once again, middle school students displayed a strong interest, and about 10 high school students responded.

After Smith met with High School Principal Duane Baumann and Middle School Principal Geoff Kappes, they decided to start only a middle school program and then add the high school team once those students moved up.

In the spring, Baumann, however, suggested they begin the high school team as well. He felt that once students knew the team was officially starting up, more would take part.

This proposal was taken to then Superintendent Jim Shank, who agreed to move forward with both programs, Smith said.

Natasha Bamberger, a former Coupeville state champion, and Elizabeth Biting were selected as coaches.

“Hiring Natasha at the high school level was a coup and makes a great connection with our program from the past,” Smith said. “Elizabeth Bitting, who has been our head middle school track coach the past two years, was also a no-brainer as it brought familiarity to our middle school students.

“Both of them are very knowledgeable, hands on and extremely energetic coaches who will, I believe, lead a resurgence of runners and solidify our program for years to come.”

More in Sports

Wildcats to take in state experience / Volleyball

Going to the state tournament will be a special experience for her… Continue reading

Oak Harbor edges Everett, claims state berth / Volleyball

Overcoming a loss in the semifinals of the District 1 3A volleyball… Continue reading

Oak Harbor challenges Everett for state berth / Volleyball

The Oak Harbor High School volleyball team will attempt to extend its… Continue reading

Wildcats beat Mavs, face undefeated Snohomish in district semifinals / Volleyball

After defeating Meadowdale 3-0 in the opening round of the district tournament,… Continue reading

Photos: ‘Little’ Wolves, Wildcats begin seasons / Basketball

The Coupeville Middle School boys basketball and the Oak Harbor and Coupeville… Continue reading

Golf tournament raises $8,000 for WhidbeyHealth Foundation

The third annual Bennett Boyles Memorial Golf Tournament raised nearly $8,000 for… Continue reading

Smith, Riddle-Stevens represent Oak Harbor in state meet / Cross country

Oak Harbor High School senior Alexis Smith placed 35th and junior Dallas… Continue reading

Timberline’s defense stops Oak Harbor’s playoff push / Football

Oak Harbor High School’s defense was good but Timberline’s was better as… Continue reading

Oak Harbor’s season comes to an end at district meet / Swim and dive

The Oak Harbor High School swim and dive team completed its season… Continue reading

Quidachay fills key role for Wildcats / Volleyball

When the Oak Harbor High School volleyball team adopted senior transfer Leah… Continue reading

Wolves knocked out of postseason / Volleyball

A goal for most high school teams is to reach the playoffs.… Continue reading