Prep preview / Coupeville cross country

Things are falling into place for the new Coupeville High School cross country team.

The sport is returning to Central Whidbey after a 20-year break, and coach Natasha Bamberger likes what she sees.

“The team has really bonded in their first week of practice together,” Bamberger said. “They are inclusive and individually articulate, thoughtful, hardworking, funny, yet serious, student athletes.”

Senior Danny Conlisk, the Olympic League’s top middle distance runner in track last spring, is providing leadership.

While the sport is new to Coupeville, it is not to Conlisk. He trained and competed with South Whidbey the past two seasons; last year he was joined by sophomore Sam Wynn.

The pair, along with sophomore Catherine Lhamon, who competed in distance events for the Wolves in track, give Coupeville a core of veteran distance runners.

Senior Kyle Burnett, junior Christopher Ruck, sophomore TJ Rickner and freshmen Alana Michill and Adair DeJesus round out the team.

Bamberger expects others to join the squad once school starts.

“Having the opportunity to not only run with them but to get the chance to talk with each one of them one-on-one has been exceptional,” Bamberger said. “It’s been great to see them come together.”

The coach has a long list of goals for her squad which center around team chemistry, commitment, sportsmanship and building a competitive program.

The Wolves joined South Whidbey for a four-day retreat at Camp Casey this week.

It was “a great opportunity for our young team to run with an experienced team and learn from coach Doug Fulton,” Bamberger said. “It’s really a fun time, getting up running, training, playing games, eating great meals together. Camp sets the tone for the season. They will love it and learn a lot in the process.”

As with any new team, the club is “starting from square one,” Bamberger said. “So, no free rides here.”

The Wolves will open the season at the North Sound Preview Meet hosted by Granite Falls at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.