Athletes create highlights in 2020 despite virus

Although COVID-19 threw a wrench in the sports world last spring, it didn’t keep South Whidbey athletes from gracing 2020 with outstanding performances.


Seven South Whidbey High School wrestlers placed at the Gus Compton Invitational hosted by Mount Baker Jan. 4, led by Aiden Coleman, who finished second.

A week later, five Falcons placed in the King of the Mountain Tournament in Darrington. Coleman again took second, as did Dylan Davis and Drew Aposhyan.

Then Aposhyan, Coleman, Davis and Justin Moberly all took first, helping South Whidbey win the Oak Harbor Tournament Jan. 25.

Five of the six North Sound Conference schools — South Whidbey, Cedar Park Christian, Granite Falls, King’s and Sultan — along with Seattle charter school Summit Sierra, agreed to link up with the eight Emerald City League schools to form a new league, the Emerald Sound Conference, for the 2020-21 school year, South Whidbey Athletic Director Paul Lagerstedt announced in January.

“We are excited for the opportunity to build relationships with neighboring schools and communities, ultimately giving our student-athletes the best possible athletic experience,” Lagerstedt said. “The Emerald Sound Conference is committed to providing education-based athletics to all of our school communities while also emphasizing sportsmanship and fair play.”

The South Whidbey Swim Club held the second of its four yearly intrasquad meets Jan. 28, and 11 records fell.

Jackson Murphy, swimming in the boys 14U division, set team standards in the 50-yard backstroke (36.31), 50 butterfly (37.25), 100 individual medley (1:20) and 100 freestyle (1:06.8).

Abigail Ireland set four new records in the girls 14U class: 50 free (30.12), 50 breaststroke (46.75), 100 IM (1:26.8) and 100 free (1:06.8).

In the boys 12U division, Rowan Jung set records in the 50 fly (39.75) and 100 IM (1:28.5), and Nick Schomper set a new standard in the 50 back (37.66).

Sienna Nissen set a new team mark in the girls 12U 100 free (1:12.3).


Whidbey Island athletes from Armstrong’s taekwondo studios won a fistful of awards at a regional tournament in Lynnwood Feb. 8 and 9.

Leading the way was Lindsey Helm, who finished first in five events in her division.

Others placing first were Findley Helm, Jerry Helm, Trevor Fleming and Ethen Miller.

Led by Carson Wrightson with 20 points, the Sound Whidbey High School boys basketball team opened district tournament play with a thrilling 47-46 win over visiting Nooksack Valley Feb. 10.

Five days later the Falcons were eliminated from district play, finishing the year with a 16-8 record.

The Falcon girls season came to an end with a loss to Mount Baker Feb. 11. South Whidbey finished the year with nine wins, a seven-game improvement over the previous season despite a roster that featured six freshmen and only two seniors.

Aposhyan qualified for the 1A state wrestling tournament by finishing first at the regional meet at Klahowya High School Feb. 15.

Coleman and Davis each took third, also earning state berths.

At state in Tacoma Feb. 21 and 22, Davis nabbed fourth.

Both South Whidbey Wind teams medaled in the basketball skills division of the Washington State Special Olympics Winter Games Feb. 29 in Wenatchee.

Wind 2, the defending state champions coached by Steve Thompson, collected a silver medal. Wind 1, coached by Mike Etzell, earned a bronze.

South Whidbey graduate Elizabeth Donnelly helped Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minn.) win the distance medley relay at the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Conference indoor track championships Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and 29.


Nine South Whidbey High School basketball players received North Sound Conference postseason honors.

Senior Wrightson and junior Sterling Patton were first-team selections for the boys, while senior teammates Dexter Jokinen, Levi Buck and Nick Young were all honorable mention.

For the Falcon girls, freshman Isabelle Wood was named to the first team, while senior Kayla Knauer and juniors Emma Hodson and Ella Wood were honorable mention. Hodson also received the sportsmanship award.

In mid-March the WIAA began postponing athletic contests because of the coronavirus. Interscholastic sports have yet to resume.


Fourteen South Whidbey seniors were selected for the school’s Wall of Fame: Kobe Balora, football; Davis, wrestling; Mattason Straub, track; Kole Nelson, football, track; Samuel Martin, track; Alex Black, baseball; Issiah Gonzales, track; Billy Rankin, track; Alison Papritz, tennis; Mallory Drye, soccer; Michael Harwell, cross country; Ethan Petty, baseball; Ari Marshall, softball; and Grayson Bodie Hezel, track.

Kayla Knauer and Balora were tabbed for the Gillies award.

Samuel Baesler, Joseph Lane and Sawyer Mauk received the Loren Brixner Award, which is given to the male athlete with the highest grade point average and who consistently participated in co-curricular programs.

Papritz and Ashley Ricketts earned the South Whidbey’s Board of Directors Award, which goes to the female athlete with the highest GPA and who was consistently involved in co-curricular programs.

Hezel was selected to play in the Earl Bardon Football Classic, which was scheduled for June 20 in Yakima but cancelled because of the virus. The game was to feature the state’s top senior players from the 2A, 1A and B classifications.

South Whidbey High School football coach Mark Hodson announced his resignation and was replaced by his nephew, Luke Hodson.


While most activities were shut down, the Whidbey Island Baseball Club Crabs were able to squeak in a tournament, finishing sixth in the appropriately named COVIC Classic 14U July 24-26 at North Whidbey’s Clover Valley Park.

Because of COVID-19, the 24th annual Whidbey Island Triathlon was converted to a virtual event this summer and was held July 24 through Aug. 2. The South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District allowed participants to use alternative methods in place of the traditional swimming, biking and running disciplines.

Twenty-five athletes from around the world, including one from Qatar, competed. Among the participants was Whidbey’s Peter Oakley, who took part in his 23rd race, missing only the 2018 contest because of a training accident.


South Whidbey siblings Riley and Lindsey Newman placed first and second respectively in their doubles divisions in The Showcase, a professional pickleball tournament in Newport Beach, Calif., Aug. 13-16. The pair also teamed up to finish fifth in mixed doubles.

In December, Selkirk Sport, a leading pickleball paddle and accessory brand, introduced the Lindsey Newman Signature Paddle — Vanguard Mach6.

Island Greens, a local par-3 golf course, closed Aug. 23 after 31 years in operation.

Falcon basketball player Carson Wrightson earned first-team, all-conference honors for the 2019-20 season. (File photo)

Falcon basketball player Carson Wrightson earned first-team, all-conference honors for the 2019-20 season. (File photo)

South Whidbey freshman Isabelle Wood was a first-team, all-North Sound Conference selection in girls basketball last season. (File photo)

South Whidbey freshman Isabelle Wood was a first-team, all-North Sound Conference selection in girls basketball last season. (File photo)