Nooksack Valley’s Logan Clabaugh (left) and Arlin Holder (right) compete in the 800-meter run at Lynden Christian High School on Thursday.(Nick Elges/Lynden Tribune)

Pioneers feature a few state qualifiers, several talented newcomers 

EVERSON — After finishing last season with 30 athletes, second-year head coach Tyler Perry said the Nooksack Valley track team is up to about 52 participants this spring, creating a sense of excitement the program hasn’t experienced in quite a while. 

“Our numbers are really high,” said Perry, who graduated from Nooksack in 2011 and recently finished his degree at Western Washington University. “We have a lot of kids competing for the first time in high school track. We have a lot more kids out and there’s a lot of excitement.” 

Graduating from last season’s team was Colton Kautz, who took fourth place in the Class 1A discus event at state last May. On the girls side, state qualifying hurdler Michaela Yonkman graduated. 

Despite those losses, several state qualifiers return to the fold for Nooksack Valley. Senior Alyce Harlan took ninth place in the 3200-meter run at state last spring and then won the 1A state title in cross country in November. Senior Grace Himango finished fifth in shot put and eighth in discus last season and senior Nicole Whittern managed seventh in the javelin throw.

All three seniors are team captains for the lady Pioneers, who also feature senior and former Nooksack softball pitcher Jamie Tresselt (discus), senior state cross country and basketball participant Brooke DeBeeld (distance) and freshmen Lily Snow (state XC qualifier), Jenna Compton and Maya Galley. 

Behind senior captain Arlin Holder, a state cross country qualifier last fall, the Nooksack boys return just one state qualifier in senior long and triple jumper Tre Silva. 

Jumper Landon Bruin, senior newcomer Jordan Veening and distance runners Holder, Joshua Steele, Nate Snow and Logan Clabaugh are all guys to keep an eye on for the Pioneers this spring. 

Coach Perry also said Levi Tenkley, who just missed out on qualifying for state in javelin last season, and newcomer sprinter Baylor Galley should compete well for the team. 

Nooksack hosts Blaine and Sehome at 3:30 p.m. today before heading to Friday’s Bedlington Twilight Invite at Lynden High School. The Pioneers will be at Civic Stadium for the Birger Solberg Invite on April 7, head to LC for a meet on April 11, take off for the Mountlake Terrace Invite on April 14 and will be at Meridian’s Whatcom County Championships on April 20. 

Lynden track moves on from legendary senior class

LYNDEN — Last season, the Lynden track team was led by two of the best athletes in the program’s history, Brandon Swarthout and Jasmyne Neria. 

Swarthout’s impressive campaign was highlighted by second-place Class 2A state finishes in both the long jump and triple jump, and third-place finishes in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. He also broke school records in all four events while powering the Lynden boys to fourth place at state last May. 

Neria, who now competes for Central Washington University, earned second place at state in the 400-meter run for the second straight season for the Lynden girls, tying a bow on one of the best careers in the history of the program. She also helped the lady Lions’ 4x200 relay team to fifth at state last season. 

Despite the loss of those seniors, this spring’s Lynden track team is loaded with talent and depth that should help the program compete for more hardware at state come May.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Lynden head coach Layne Hutchins. “Obviously we have some big shoes to fill with some of those seniors that we lost last year. We’ve got some upperclassmen who are new to track that we are hoping will help (fill those gaps).”

Among Lynden’s top returners on the boys side is junior Tate Hutchins, who took sixth place in the 800m run last spring and has twice qualified for state in cross country. Anthony Baird competed at state in the 100m dash last season, Nathan Doering reached state in the 110m hurdles and distance runners Roscoe Perry and Isaiah Ellis are coming off appearances in the 2A state cross country meet last fall. 

Coach Hutchins said throwers Kaden Mayberry, Marty Karb and Jacob Kettels are on his radar this season, along with jumper Elijah Lyons. Senior Bo Bovenkamp is a guy to keep an eye on in pole vault. 

For the lady Lions, Hutchins said “we have a bunch of freshman girls who look talented” along with some veterans and new upperclassmen. The coach also mentioned that the girls team might be bigger than it has ever been with 35 athletes on the roster. 

Kornelija Houston should be strong in the 800m and the 4x400 relay while Savone Sterk and senior Sierra Smith return from Lynden’s state 4x200 relay team. Sierra’s younger sister Jenna is one of many freshmen who could do big things for the Lions this spring. 

With a big group coming out for track, Hutchins said Lynden should be strong in dual meets. The team proved that assessment true in Thursday’s season-opening meet against Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian at LC — the Lynden boys defeated LC 135-42 and got past Nooksack 139-41 while the girls beat Lynden Christian 105-77 and won 106-56 over the Pioneers.  

“The goal is always to compete the right way and compete with class, but also to compete at a high level and get another (state) trophy,” Hutchins said. “If things go the right way, we feel like we’ve got some pieces to score some points at the state meet. We’ve got some people coming back who have scored at state and others who went to state.”

Coming up for Lynden is the season’s first big meet when the Lions host the annual Bedlington Twilight meet on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Lions will be at Civic Stadium for the Birger Solberg Invite on April 7, and the team heads to Cheney for the Van Kuren Invite on April 14. 

Lynden will also be at Meridian for the Whatcom County Championships on April 20 and the Lakewood Invitational on April 28. 

Big shoes to fill for LC track

LYNDEN — From Hannah Rusnak to Stephen Cummins to Jack VanderGriend, it’s no secret that the Lynden Christian track team lost some serious talent to graduation last June. 

Now a new group of Lyncs look to find their place in the history of the program, which is led by head coach Kent DeHoog. 

“We have a ways to go, but it’s exciting because we have some kids who are brand-new to track,” DeHoog said. 

Rusnak led the LC girls to a fifth-place finish in the Class 1A state meet last spring, winning state titles in the long jump and 100-meter hurdles while finishing third in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. The University of Washington freshman won an impressive 15 state medals during her four years with the program. 

Also scoring at state for the lady Lyncs last season was the 4x400 relay team. Sophomores Liv Mellema, Laine DeJong and Tara Hollander, along with graduate Taylor Ten Pas, managed sixth place in the event, and sophomore Paige Decker will fill in for Ten Pas this season as the team looks for repeat success in the event. 

On the boys side, Cummins managed second place in the 400-meter dash and eighth in the 200m at state last spring, and VanderGriend managed third in the 110-meter hurdles to help the Lyncs finish eighth in the 1A team standings. 

Key returners for the Lynden Christian boys will be senior distance runners Eric Steiger and Brooks DeWaard. During cross country season last fall, Steiger took third place while DeWaard crossed the line in 14th in the 1A 5000-meter run as both runners earned a second straight top-15 finish. 

On the track last spring, Steiger took fourth place in state in the 3200-meter run in a school record time (9:44.19) and finished eight in the 1600m. DeWaard was 11th in the 3200 and 10th in the 1600. 

“They have high aspirations,” DeHoog said of his distance runners.

Junior Thane Boersma finished 12th in pole vault at state last season. DeHoog said junior hurdler Shane Hamstra is expected to compete for a state spot as well for the LC boys. 

With numerous options available to play spring sports, the size of the Lynden Christian track team is typically smaller than most schools the Lyncs compete against, and that’s the case once again this season. Still, the program is focused on getting as many athletes as it can to May’s state meet. 

“Our goal is always to try and get some groups down to state,” DeHoog said. “Typically, we’re hoping to get some relay teams to state.”

LC opened the season against Lynden and Nooksack Valley on Thursday. The first big meet of the season for all local teams is on Friday at Lynden’s Bedlington Twilight Invitational at 3:30 p.m., but the Lyncs will first head to Anacortes to take on the Seahawks and the Meridian Trojans today, also at 3:30 p.m. 

Lynden Christian will be at Civic Stadium for the Birger Solberg meet on April 7 and hosts meets on April 11 and April 17. 

Meridian track begins new chapter 

LAUREL — Multiple state qualifiers graduated from last season’s Meridian track roster, highlighted by Payton Lunde, one of the best athletes to come through the program. 

Lunde helped the Meridian girls finish third in Class 1A at state last May, and anchored the Trojans’ 4x200 relay team to a state title. She ended up with 11 state medals for her career to tie the program record. 

Returning for the Meridian girls are junior Mali Mack and sophomore Katelyn Barnes, who were both members of the state champion 4x200 relay team. Senior Ashlee VanDenTop, who took second place at state in the 800-meter run last spring, also returns for the Trojans. 

Others graduating were Sydney Gospodinovich and Malia Clift, the fourth member of the 4x200 team. 

On the boys side, Camden Burgess, who took fifth in long jump and seventh in triple jump at state last year, was the lone Trojans to score points at state last season and is the biggest loss for the program. Meridian did qualify a 4x100 team for state in 2017, and Burgess is the lone member of that group not returning. Seniors Tony Schleimer and Bryce Vandenhaak and junior Dawson Logan made up the rest of the relay. 

Meridian opened the season on Thursday with wins over Blaine and Mount Baker at Blaine High School. The Trojans are at Anacortes today to take on the Seahawks and Lynden Christian at 3:30 p.m. 

Meridian will be at Sedro-Woolley for the Clash of Conferences meet on March 30, takes to Lynden Christian for a meet on April 11, heads to Cashmere for an invite on April 14 and hosts the Whatcom County Championships on April 20. 

Baker track

DEMING — The Mount Baker track team returns senior 2017 Class 2A javelin state qualifier Carson Brandland and sophomore high jump state participant Chris VanLiew this season. 

Graduate TJ Bass was the lone Mountaineer to medal at state last season, finishing fifth in shot put. 

Baker opened the season at Blaine on Thursday and is at Civic Stadium against Bellingham and Sedro-Woolley today at 4 p.m. The Mounties will be at Friday’s Bedlington Invitational at Lynden High School, the Birger Solberg meet at Civic on April 7, the LC 1A invite on April 11 and Meridian’s Whatcom County League meet on April 20.