CHENEY - The Lynden Christian, Meridian and Nooksack Valley track and field teams traveled to the Class 1A State Tournament with hopes of displaying their local talent in front of the best competition in the state.
Nooksack Valley did so in a big way when Mitch Beard took home a state championship in the 800-meter finals. Meridian's Denver Vander Yacht and Jake Schmitt each competed in at least three events. Then there was Lynden Christian, which saw Marissa Heilkema and the members of the 4x100 girls' relay team have big-time performances.
With the finish of the state championships on Saturday, May 26, at Eastern Washington University, each of the three Northwest Conference teams came away with plenty of medals.
"It was fun to watch all our talented teams," said Nooksack Valley coach Robb Myhre in a phone interview. "It was fun to go and root for everybody, including Meridian and Lynden Christian's kids and to see good performances. We had a good time cheering on all the local teams.
The biggest story out of Nooksack Valley was Beard's state title in the 800 with a time of 1 minute, 59.44 seconds after winning by just 27 hundredths of a second. But Ashley Loreen had a showing to remember for the Pioneers, as well, with a solid performance in the girls' discus finals - taking fifth with a mark of 106 feet, 1 inch.
With it being the sophomore's first season competing in track and field, Myhre said it was just as special as Beard's state title.
"She was the only non-senior on the podium today and we were really excited for her," Myhre said. "She battled injuries all year and for many of us who have been around track and field for so long, a fifth place finish for a girl who had never done it before this year is as big as a championships from somebody else. It has been great to see her development."
Nooksack Valley's BJ Salmonson placed 11th in the boys' shot put and Tyson Perry was 14th in long jump.
Meridian's Jake Schmitt was gunning for a state title of his own in the boys' 200 meter finals. He earned the top preliminary time on Friday, but could not earn the same place on Saturday. He took third in 22.84 seconds.
Schmitt wasn't done there. He helped the boys' 4x100 relay team take fourth in 44.33 seconds. The team also included Max McGuinn, Taylor Burgess and Relijah McMillen. Schmitt then took fifth in the 100 at 11.18 seconds and was eighth in the 400 in 51.91.
Vander Yacht came into the state tournament after taking first place in the shot put, javelin and discus in the tri-district tournament. He took third in javelin on Friday and did not place in discus after fouling. He finished his state tournament run on Saturday with a seventh place finish in javelin with a mark of 48-01.00.
Meridian's Kelsea Clark took ninth in the girls' pole vault with a mark of 9-0.
Lynden Christian's 4x100 relay team of Madison Burke, Emily Sytsma, Madison Weg and Alexa Vander Meulen took seventh in 51.58 seconds on Saturday. Brooke Van Dalen finished 11th in the girls' javelin with a mark of 100-11.
Lynden Christian and Nooksack Valley tied in the team standings at 33rd with four points each. Meridian was 39th with two points.
CLASS 1A GIRLS
4x100 relay Athletes Time (Place)
Lynden Christian Madison Burke 51.58 (7th)
Alexa Vander Meulen
4x400 relay Athletes Time (Place)
Meridian Trinell Carpenter 4:12.06 (7th)
Triple jump School Mark (Place)
Taylor Lunde Meridian 31-09.75 (15th)
Discus School Mark (Place)
Ashley Loreen Nooksack Valley 106-01 (5th)
Javelin School Mark (Place)
Brooke Van Dalen Lynden Christian 100-11 (11th)
Pole vault School Mark (Place)
Kelsea Clark Meridian 9-00.00 (9th)
CLASS 1A BOYS
100 meters School Time (Place)
Jake Schmitt Meridian 11.18 (5th)
200 meters School Time (Place)
Jake Schmitt Meridian 22.84 (3rd)
400 meters School Time (Place)
Jake Schmitt Meridian 51.91 (8th)
800 meters School Time (Place)
Mitch Beard Nooksack Valley 1:59.44 (1st)
4x100 relay Athletes Time (Place)
Meridian Taylor Burgess 44.33 (4th)
Shot Put School Time (Place)
Denver Vander Yacht Meridian 48-01.00 (7th)
BJ Salmonson Nooksack Valley 45-02.00 (11th)
Long Jump School Mark (Place)
Tyson Perry Nooksack Valley 18-16.50 (14th)