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A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record

2021

High School Sports Spotlight Magazine

Celebrating a sports season like no other, with athletes who met the challenge straight on Published Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Cgratulatis tletes Cap off your great season with some Coconut Kenny’s


TABLE OF CONTENTS C2 - Lynden Christian Girls Basketball C6 - Lynden Girls Basketball C10 - Mount Baker’s Marques Brown C12 - Meridian’s Kayla Aalpoel C14-15 - Seasons 1 & 2 Highlights C16 - Nooksack Valley’s Jordyn Relethford C18 - Ferndale’s Jaclyn Denham C20 - Meridian’s Claire Skaggs C22 - Thoughts from the sports desk C23-24 - Seasons 1 & 2 Highlights Following the 2020 spring sports season that wasn’t, high school sports around Whatcom County and just about everywhere else look quite a bit different than they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a normal year, the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record would release a magazine for each season, featuring a photo, roster and a full game schedule for each north county team. Sports in the 2020-21 school year were truncated into

three short seasons, with the first beginning in mid-February, with a matter of days separating each one. “Unprecedented” is an overused word, but it applies here, and even though this format doesn’t lend itself well to a traditional magazine for each of the three seasons, we still wanted to find a way to commemorate the hard work put in by county athletes. In this magazine, you will find in-depth stories focusing on the athletes themselves, why they love their respective

sports and how they have endured and bounced back from a season lost to the uncontrollable. Despite their hard work, none of these athletes will have the chance to experience a postseason this year, and for some seniors, this means half a high school career with no postseason play. A magazine is hardly a replacement, but we hope it can be at least an honor for the athletes who, despite the pandemic, continue to strive for greatness.


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Talent-loaded Lyncs back on the hardwood once more

The Lynden Christian girls basketball team is back in action now through June for a condensed season. The Lyncs won’t get the chance to repeat as state champions this year as the pandemic wiped out any WIAAsanctioned postseasons across the state. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

With no state tournament, Lynden Christian grateful for what it does have Students at Lynden Christian High School walk in every morning, do their COVID check-in protocols and, for the girls basketball team, they take a look at the state championship trophy sitting in the trophy case. They have affectionately named it Goldie. The traveling trophy’s stay on campus has been extended because of the coronavirus pandemic and cancellation of any sports postseasons in Washington for the 2020-21 school year. For a team that returned nearly its entire starting

lineup from a state title, that comes with mixed feelings. Losing only two starters to graduation from last year’s team in Riley Dykstra and Liv Mellema, the Lyncs have back five seniors, three of which were starters a year ago, and another deep bench. The seniors lose their chance to win three state titles in four years and the underclassmen lose a shot at being contributors to what could have been another state championship team out of Lynden Christian. “I think when that became not a reality in the fall you kind of grieve that,” head coach Brady Bomber said. “That you’re not able to go through the full season, your full league, non-league and postseason and have that opportunity. For girls that were either waiting their turn to be a part of that or their senior year to be a part of that, it was difficult.” For senior Emily Mellema, this was

the season she was most excited for. “Last year, we had a really talented group and came together really well at the end of the season, especially,” Mellema said. “My senior class, we’ve been playing together since we were in second, third, fourth grade. We’ve been together forever. This was a year we were looking forward to.” It also became a year with no certainty that sports would even happen at all, so with that comes a new appreciation for the 14 basketball games they do get in May and June. Things can change and change quickly, Bomber said, so the team has learned to approach this season with an open hand. “I think for us, just trying to appreciate every chance you get to be together has taken a whole new meaning with the Continued on next page


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT gratitude you have for the moments you have together as a group,” Bomber said. “I think it’s given us perspective and focus that maybe slips your mind when you’re in the thick of it year after year.” Without any large championship dreams this year, the Lyncs have had to find other ways to stay motivated. Bomber said the pandemic has shone a light on what a team should be about day to day. “Do you enjoy being together with your teammates when there’s not that carrot of a gold ball or going to state that is normally there?” he said. “For us, (it’s about) trying to make sure we play with joy every day and strive for excellence because we can still do those things regardless of whether there’s some postseason aspiration.” Junior Alli VanKooten said having to do things on their own as players has been hard, but they’ve been able to find open gyms to shoot and work out to stay ready. “In any sport you play, it’s hard to keep the motivation and work ethic knowing there’s not really an end goal in mind,” Mellema said. “Our goal every Continued on next page

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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Lynden Christian senior Lexi Hernandez is one of three starters returning for the Lyncs this season. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lyncs senior Kenadi Fay was a significant contributor off the bench last season for Lynden Christian. (Hailey Palmer/ Lynden Tribune)

year going into the season is to bring that gold ball back and put it in our trophy case. We’ve been doing what we can and making the most of what’s been presented to us.” What’s been presented to the defending Class 1A state champions this season is a 14-game, mostly Northwest Conference, schedule. That will bring the usual big games the Lyncs have every year against teams like Nooksack Valley and Lynden, but the schedule also includes non-conference games against some of the top Class 1A teams in the state. Outside of the Northwest Conference, Lynden Christian will play games against King’s and La Salle, and the Lyncs are hoping to add one more nonconference opponent to their schedule. “We’re just taking what we get and playing it to the best of our abilities,” VanKooten said. “Nothing is really set in stone, so we’re just taking it as it comes.” The Lyncs’ May 29 matchup against La Salle will be a rematch of the 2019 state championship game that Continued on next page

Senior Emily Mellema, a University of Wyoming signee, is back for her final season in a Lyncs uniform. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT ended in a 56-49 loss for Lynden Christian. “I’ve been looking forward to that since the second the buzzer rang in 2019,” Mellema said. “I’m so excited to play them again.” There are a lot of talented teams in the Northwest Conference, but Bomber

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record gives credit to LC school administrators for putting together a competitive nonconference schedule this season for the Lyncs. “They put a lot of time into how we’re going to structure our schedule. They gave us coaches a voice in what we wanted,” Bomber said. “For us to even-

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tually end up with three non-league games, it’s just another opportunity to make the most of this season.” Lynden Christian took the floor as a team for its first game since March 2020 on Tuesday, May 18, against Blaine. The Lyncs came away with a 64-17 win. — Hailey Palmer

Paige TeVelde, above left, and Kiley Roetcisoender, above right, are two of five seniors for Lynden Christian this season. Junior Alli VanKooten, below, will look to make an impact for LC this year. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden back on the court with new, younger faces Lions bring back two starters from last year’s state title squad March 7, 2020. It was the last day the high school sports landscape in Washington state was what we once considered normal. The Class 1A/2A basketball tournament was wrapping up in Yakima and the Lynden girls basketball team was one of four that day to leave the SunDome with the coveted gold ball of a championship. By the end of the following week, the entire country was beginning to shut down as the coronavirus pandemic became a shocking specter. “It happened over a year ago, but it doesn’t feel like it happened,” Lynden senior Maddie Canales said of winning the title. “You see the pictures, you see the articles, but we never got to celebrate how every team should.” With the pandemic shutting schools down as it did, the Lions’ trophy was in the trophy case, but the team was stuck at home. “We won it and then got kicked out of school,” senior Faith Baar said. Lynden High School recently got all students back in buildings on a regular basis, so the Lion girls have been able to see their trophy since then, but reality still isn’t what it once was. The new reality is that it would be more than 15 months before they took the floor as a team again and when they finally did, they wouldn’t officially be defending the state title they won in 2020. “It’s super disappointing we can’t fight to get back to Yakima and defend the title we just won. But we’ve always said from the beginning let’s just get the kids a chance, especially the seniors, another opportunity to play,” first-year head coach Aaron Bogaard said. “That’s where we’re at right now and we’re thankful for that.” Continued on next page

Senior Anna VanderYacht is one of two starters returning from last year’s state title team. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


B O B C A T. C O M

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT Whether or not the team was going to repeat, not having the chance to do so is a letdown a year after the Lions posted a 26-1 record. “It’s a huge disappointment to not have that state run at the end of the year you’re building up for your entire season,” senior Anna VanderYacht said. “Your entire season is built up for state and districts, and to not have that just sucks.” That doesn’t mean the team won’t have anything to play for at all, though. For Baar and the rest of the seniors, the focus this season is much simpler: enjoying one last ride together and giving back to the underclassmen. “Right now we can’t fight for a huge something at the end, but we can at least make (the underclassmen) fall in love with the game,” VanderYacht said. There is one nice thing that comes with this situation, though. The trophy gets to stick around for a little while longer at Lynden High, and for the seniors they’ll be leaving school as defending champs. “Just looking at it gets you excited to play the game again whether or not you’re fighting for that title,” Bogaard

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

B O B C A T. C O M

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

heading into the Lions’ 14-game slate. “It’s hard to make goals and push yourself to get better when you don’t have that end competition that everyone looks forward to,” Baar said. Although this season isn’t what anyone imagined or wanted when Lynden was hoisting the trophy in 2020, there’s still plenty to look forward to for the Lions. A basketball season that goes through June means the seniors will be playing their last game after they graduate. “It’ll be so cool to look back on in like 20 years,” VanderYacht said. The Lions have a new look this year on the floor, having lost starting guards Keylie Hershey, Liv Tjoelker and Ruby Vander Haak to graduation. They also have a new head coach in Bogaard following Rob Adams’ retirement last spring. Bogaard spent the last five years in the program as an assistant coach. Lynden will have two returning starters on the court in Baar and VanderYacht. Other returners from last year’s state championship team are Canales, senior Riley Anderson and sophomore Adia Newcomb. Continued on next page

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Senior Maddie Canales returns from last year’s state championship team. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

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SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

  Despite the changes from last year’s squad, Bogaard is still confident in the team being able to compete this year. “We’ll be younger at the guard spots, so we’ll rely on some youth, but hopefully we can mesh those two together

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

and have our older group realize they’re going to have to depend on the younger ones and our younger ones realize that we’re not expecting them to do everything and lead the show,” Bogaard said. “If we can get the two to blend together I

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think we’ll be sitting all right.” Lynden opened its season Saturday, May 15, with a 50-47 loss to Sehome. The Lions played Nooksack Valley Tuesday, May 18, which the Pioneers won 56-48. — Hailey Palmer

Freshman Haylee Koetje, upper No. 14, is one of the younger players hitting the court for the Lions this season. Anna VanderYacht, lower left, and Adia Newcomb, lower right, return from last year. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Baker’s Brown led league in strikeouts Pitcher looked to club ball for outlet during COVID-19 pandemic For Mount Baker pitcher Marques Brown, the loss of the 2020 high school baseball season stung, but he was still blessed with an outlet as the COVID-19 pandemic affected just about everything. “At the time, we thought it was two weeks off,” Brown said of a year ago. “We had found out the Friday of our first week of practice that we wouldn’t be going back for a while. Then that deadline kept extending.” Brown plays for the Cascade Crush and had the opportunity to travel to Arizona last June and Idaho in July to play summer ball with his club team. “We found games and continued to find ways to do baseball stuff,” he said. However, with high school baseball on hold back then, the Mountaineers were unsure of what to expect. Brown said many

figured the pandemic school closure would be like an extended spring break, but as the days dragged on, schools didn’t reopen and the virus numbers kept growing, the writing was on the wall. Brown said it affected students at school academically too, as teachers didn’t have any time to prepare for the realities of remote learning. “They were thrown into this,” Brown said. “Academically, a lot was taken away from that year. At Baker there’s like 100 kids that are still failing classes right now. The F rates in every school in the county are way up because it’s just so hard to connect with people.” For Brown and his teammates, summer ball and gym time were a big opportunity to improve their game. “I was able to take advantage of this time and really work, but overall it definitely was a net negative to sports in general,” he said. Having access to a facility 24 hours a day was huge, and the ability to play club baseball was a bit of normalcy in such a

tumultuous time. “It was definitely a bright spot during the pandemic,” Brown said. “Every day felt like the same and I was able to say that today I get to go see some of my teammates and exercise and that kind of thing.” Of course, Brown and his fellow Mount Baker Mountaineers got to take the field finally this spring during Season 2 of the WIAA’s truncated high school sports schedule. The Mounties had a tough season, chalking up wins against Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Sehome and Nooksack Valley but dropping another 10 matchups. “It had some ups and downs,” Brown said. “We had some really competitive games and some games that we didn’t play too well in. It was good to just be out there. There was a long time that we didn’t know if we’d get to play.” Brown said the highlight of his 2021 season was leading the league in strikeouts with 67, and that’s also one of the highlights of his high school baseball career. He Continued on next page

Mount Baker senior Marques Brown lost his junior season to the pandemic, but still had opportunities to play with his club team last summer. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT also said pitching outings his sophomore year against Blaine and Ferndale were big because he was able to prove himself as a younger player. Brown said the biggest part of this training is getting into the gym and lifting weights, as well as going through throwing exercises. “Some days it’s just playing catch,” he said. “The big thing is the weight room aspect. That’s huge. And you have to throw consistently and continue to sharpen that skill. It’s all just about repetition and continuing to get comfortable in what you’re doing.” After he graduates from Mount Baker this June, Brown will attend Skagit Valley College to pitch, and he hopes baseball will bring him to a four-year university to pitch. Regardless of his baseball prospects, he will transfer to a four-year school. He had some Division 3 looks, but that’s not the level where he wants to end up, Brown said. “The hope is that baseball would bring me somewhere,” he said. “I will go to a fouryear school somewhere and get a degree somewhere. It’ll be in Washington. I’m not looking to get too far from home if baseball doesn’t take me there.” Brown said his favorite part of pitching is the fact that he can be in control of the

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

Brown led the Northwest Conference this year in strikeouts with 67, a year removed from having his entire season cancelled. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune) game. “You’re kind of in the driver’s seat,” he said. “It’s the one on one batter, just you and the hitter, that you get into over and over. I’ve always just found that really fun and really challenging. You can be selfish with

your performance. You don’t have to share the baseball. If you do the best that you possibly can, you’re going to help your team. It’s being able to focus on myself and do as good as I can do for the team.” — Brent Lindquist

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Meridian’s Aalpoel has eyes set on school records She’s already reset the 3200-meter mark, 1600 up next

Meridian junior Kayla Aalpoel came in first in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs at the Whatcom County Track Meet on May 8. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Meridian junior Kayla Aalpoel runs about 55 miles in a typical week. That includes a long run of around 13 miles and she considers her medium-length runs that week to be from anywhere from eight to 10 miles. That’s all in preparation for a hoped-for running career in college and for her goals of bringing down some of the track records at Meridian High School. She hasn’t reset every school record she wants to yet and lost a chance at doing so last year when the pandemic canceled the spring sports season, but Aalpoel was a force for the Trojans this season. Aalpoel’s passion for running emerged in the seventh grade when she joined the middle school track team. It became a stress reliever for her and she said she knew right away it was something she’d do forever. “Everything outside of running was a lot, so when I started doing that I just felt better after going for a short run,” Aalpoel said. “It’s just a form of happiness for me. I don’t know what I’d be without it.” She broke the Meridian High School record in the 3200-meter run this past April 28 with a time of 11:12.1. Aalpoel said that record was her biggest goal heading into the season. “It was really, really exciting for me,” Aalpoel said. “It just showed that my hard work paid off. I knew the girl who set it before me and what she was running and what she was doing to train. It just really motivated me to break it. Through it all I was like, “I need to try to get this.’ It was probably one of the best moments ever.” She said not having a season last year fueled her to be better for the next one and gave her an idea of where she wanted her times to be. Then actually getting her times there involved a lot of training on her own, with Continued on next page


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT no high school season last spring. “I practiced and did everything I needed to do during the offseason, so I was prepared to come into this season with the best physical capabilities I could,” Aalpoel said. “Overall, being able to compete was the biggest thing, and the thing I was most grateful for.” Aalpoel repeatedly captured first place in both the 1600 and 3200 runs she was in this 2021 season for the Trojans. She also ran in the 4x400 relay, but the long distance runs, she said, are where her heart is. With her senior cross country and track seasons still lying ahead next year, Aalpoel said her focus right now is on staying healthy and getting faster. The condensed versions and switches of seasons this year had cross country and track back-to-back, which meant she didn’t get a break for more training between the two seasons. “I am excited to have that (break) next year,” Aalpoel said. “During the winter I’ll be doing more speed workouts and all of that to try and get (times) down to where I need it.” Aalpoel said her ultimate goal is to run in college and that a couple of schools have reached out interested in her.

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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Aalpoel trains outside of school with Ferndale senior Jaclyn Denham, pictured above behind her. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune) In the meantime, she’ll be getting ready for one more season on both the cross country and track teams at Meridian

with the goal of taking down the 1600-meter school record next year. — Hailey Palmer

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

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SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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Scenes from Seasons 1 and 2

Seasons 1 and 2 of fall and spring sports took place over the last three months. Season 3 of traditionally winter sports will close out the school year. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Relethford, Pioneers embraced 2021 season Star Nooksack Valley pitcher plays with catcher Oettel in club ball, too Jordyn Relethford, her fellow Nooksack Valley Pioneers and every other high school softball team in Whatcom County missed out on their 2020 softball seasons, and when they returned this year, they did so with some perspective. “I think our whole philosophy this season was just to take any chance we had to do well after not having a whole season,” the junior pitcher said. “I think that kind of got us all to realize that we aren’t going to be playing this sport forever with this team and these coaches. Our time is limited after last year.” When Relethford found out about schools closing down and the season’s

Nooksack Valley junior Jordyn Relethford has been pitching on the varsity softball team since her freshman year. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Continued on next page

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SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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The Pioneers softball team finished the spring season with a record of 9-5. Relethford posted a record of 9-4 in the pitcher’s circle. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune) cancellation a year ago, she was at her catcher America Oettel’s house. “We both really look forward to school ball,” Relethford said. Relethford and Oettel both play for the Whatcom Wolverines club team, and Relethford said playing high school ball is a totally different beast. Even after school softball was canceled for the season, she and some of her teammates continued working out. “Six in the morning, we all just show up,” Relethford said. As a junior, Relethford considers herself lucky to have one more season to pitch for the Pioneers. “I know we have a lot of seniors this coming year that also want it really bad,” she said. “All we can do is hope that everything will go back to normal by then.” The Pioneers returned this year with a rocky start against Sedro-Woolley, dropping both games in the doubleheader matchup, but from then on they mostly rolled, recording wins against Mount Baker, Meridian, Blaine, Lynden Christian and Ferndale. The Pioneers went 9-5, with losses to Sedro, Lynden and Lynden Christian. Their season was characterized by

doubleheaders, Relethford said. Every matchup besides their season-ending alumni game was a doubleheader. Relethford said she loves playing from the pitcher’s circle because it’s unique to any other position on the ballfields. “It’s really about the game within the game,” Relethford said. “The game within the game, you play a game with the batter and try to beat them within your own head and with your catcher. It’s just totally different from anything else I’ve ever played, even hitting.” Relethford said she has a unique bond with Oettel, as they first met before middle school and play together in both high school and club softball. “She will call the whole game and she’s very good at it,” Relethford said. “It’s very fun to just try and beat the batter.” Relethford isn’t quite sure what she wants to do after graduating from high school, aside from pursuing fastpitch at a higher level. “I’m thinking about going into personal training,” she said. “I also really like reading and writing, and I would also want to do something like that.” — Brent Lindquist


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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Ferndale’s Jaclyn Denham to continue running in California

Ferndale senior Jaclyn Denham wrapped up her cross country and track careers as a Golden Eagle this spring. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

She’ll head to California State University-Chico, for cross country and track Ferndale senior Jaclyn Denham didn’t even know what cross country was until she was in the eighth grade. Given that, she never imagined it’s something she would be doing in college.

With her final seasons of cross country and track for the Golden Eagles now wrapped up, Denham is gearing up for a collegiate running career at California State University-Chico. During the offseason before 2021 high school sports got the green light, Denham was running on her own and set some PRs, which she said opened up doors for her to keep running in college. Denham said she started researching some schools at a higher level with their cross country and track programs and came across Chico. She was also

looking at schools in warmer areas. “They’re a super well-known program, so I reached out to their coach,” Denham said. “We drove out to Chico, I met him and was able to sign to run for them a couple weeks later. I’m super excited because they’re very competitive.” Running was something Denham picked up just as another thing to do, she said. She originally was wanting to play soccer after high school, but being able to compete right away in running without much experience gave her the Continued on next page


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT desire to keep at it. “The fact I was able to come in as a freshman and have pretty much no experience and still be able to go to state was exciting for me,” Denham said. “Being able to have that success and working hard gave me a passion.” Coming into her final track season this spring, one of Denham’s goals was to just enjoy it considering there was no promise of a season happening at the beginning of this COVID-plagued school year. She said the seniors on the Ferndale team had some extra motivation this year because of that. “I’m really thankful people decided we could compete because it would have been very sad to not have a senior season for anybody at all,” Denham said. “I definitely don’t take competing in high school sports for granted anymore.” The way it worked out, WIAA Season 1 cross country was in February and March and Season 2 track has been in April and May, all without any postseason competition. Another goal, she said, was to just do the best she could in every race. That ended up looking like Den-

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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Denham will be running cross country and track next year at California State University-Chico. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune) ham finishing in first or second place in her races across both the cross country and track seasons. Next year in California, Denham will compete on the cross country and

track teams at Chico. Being able to do both is exciting, she said. “It will be fun to be able to do that,” Denham said. “I basically get to be on two teams.” — Hailey Palmer

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Claire Skaggs, dedicated pole vaulter

Meridian senior Claire Skaggs first broke the school pole vault record her sophomore year two years ago. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

She has reset her own Meridian record now to 11 feet    It was during her sophomore year at Meridian High School in 2019 that Claire Skaggs got hooked on pole vaulting as her chosen sport of specialty.    She came to a few realizations: “I really enjoy this and I want to get better. It’s a technical sport and there’s a lot to learn.”    In that prep season, she broke the Meridian record first with a 9-foot-6inch vault at district. She did 9-9 at bidistrict to qualify for the state meet in Cheney where she got to 10 feet for the first time, and on her first try, good for fourth place.    “It was awesome,” she remembers.    In her enthusiasm Skaggs dug into what she would have to do to improve herself. She joined the NW Pole Vault Club in Seattle in order to benefit from its elite training facilities and coaching.    She headed into her junior spring season “super excited” — and then, as we all know, the global COVID virus re-

arranged everyone’s lives. Claire recalls that Meridian had gotten through one week of track turnout when schools, and sports, were abruptly cancelled on March 13, 2020 — and would not restart.    She kept going on her own, through those down days, with as many as three trips per week to the club in Seattle’s Georgetown district, to work on sprints, strength training and her vaulting technique and “breaking some bad habits,” she said.    Her effort essentially has been year-round in a sport that she knows is as much a mental exercise as a physical one.    There were some meets through NW Pole Vault by which Claire could test herself, but she was also definitely looking forward to her high school senior season for Meridian in the Northwest Conference competition.    She would not be disappointed — even if this was just a season of 4-5 meets and no postseason.    On April 29 Meridian athletic director Bryant Michaelson would post on the school’s sports website: “Congratulations Claire!” The day before, Skaggs had officially signed to attend St. Mar-

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tin’s (University) doing track and “Yesterday Claire also broke her own school record in the pole vault ... by a foot! The record is now 11 feet.”    It came at a meet in Mount Vernon where Skaggs moved up to a new size of pole for the first time, increasing her high level of satisfaction too.    She did 10-6 in the final meet of the prep season at Lynden. She also ran in the relays for Meridian.    Skaggs credits her Meridian coach Josh Winters and Pole Vault Camps’ Tim Riley for their roles in getting her to this rewarding high point.    “I didn’t know what this season would bring. It was like, whatever happens, I’ll be happy with it,” she said, reflecting. In the end, it felt like a lot of persistent work over the last two years had finally “paid off,” she said.    “I want to keep going. I’m excited that I will have a college season,” Skaggs said.    She actually sees track as a bonus at the private school in Lacey, near Olympia, where she will pursue the mechanical engineering major with a personal interest in aerospace. — Calvin Bratt

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Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Sports help bring me back to normal too What a whirlwind the past however many months have been. I’ve stopped counting the ways because I can’t count that high. It’s not too often I get to write like this. Usually the high school athletes of the area are more or less dictating what I write, but given that this entire magazine has been dedicated to the return of high school sports, I figured I’d throw in something from my perspective. Though not nearly as important or devastating, while the prep athletes were sidelined, so was I. Having no sports content to write about and what seemed like no light at the end of the tunnel of them ever returning, was tough. Throw that into the grand scheme of the pandemic and not being able to do much for nearly a year and you get one pent up sports reporter. That’s me, for the record. Those of you who follow me on Twitter, or stalk my Facebook or Instagram if that’s what you’re into, have probably figured out my dad and I were really close. If you don’t factor in the fact that I’m the one who did all my schoolwork and applied for internships and jobs, he is without a doubt the reason I have the job and career I

By Hailey Palmer

do now. Simply put, I wouldn’t love sports the way I do now if it weren’t for him. Not to bring down the mood of this piece, but losing him in November was hard, obviously. But it also made going back to work difficult when the sports scene kicked back up. When high school sports were first put on hold, he made a habit of asking me every week, sometimes multiple times a week, if there was any sort of update when they would come back. I’m sure nobody needs a reminder, but sports were shut down in March 2020. He passed in November, so that’s about eight months worth of that question every week. It was just about the last question I

wanted to hear every week while I was sitting at home doing much of nothing. When sports got the green light, all I wanted to do was be able to finally answer yes. The first few weeks of getting back in the flow of covering sports regularly weren’t easy. It was partially because I slightly forgot how to do my job, but also because I was missing the daily phone calls from my dad asking how the teams up here were doing. For a man from Puyallup, Ed Palmer sure was always interested in how the Lynden and Lynden Christian basketball teams were doing. Sports were the number one thing we shared together. (You know, besides like a last name and his bank account until I graduated college.) Not having him to share that with anymore has been an adjustment, but being able to be out in the community covering live sports again has been the highlight of a really just terrible last year or so. I know the return of sports hasn’t been perfect, but it’s provided me with an outlet I’ve needed since losing my dad and part of that credit goes to everyone I interact with while I’m in a gym or on a field. Dealing with the loss has become a little easier because of the return of sports and everyone involved. Being able to talk to athletes and coaches again, and even the occasional parent before or after a game has been something I’ve missed, and I didn’t realize how deeply ingrained they were into my well-being until I wasn’t able to do this interaction anymore. I’ll start wrapping this up, and if you’ve read this far then you have nothing but my respect. I guess this turned into one really long thank-you to everyone responsible for getting sports back up and running, athletes, coaches, parents, etc. You’ve all made some of my darker days a little brighter these last few months. You’ll be seeing more of me over the next few weeks while we wrap up winter sports in the spring/summer because seasons and time are all mixed up. Apologies in advance for my nonsense.


SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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More from Seasons 1 and 2


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SPORTS SPOTLIGHT

Lynden Tribune | May 26, 2021 | Ferndale Record

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