Though he's one of the most humble high schoolers you'll ever meet, there was no escaping the limelight for Lynden junior Josh Kraght during the 2011-12 school year.
"Everything he does in sports, he's the center of attention," Lynden boys' basketball coach Brian Roper said in a phone message. "He was the point guard for us. He was the quarterback during football, and he played catcher for the baseball team. He's always in the middle of what's going on."
And there was a whole lot going on in Lynden this school year.
Not only was Kraght the quarterback of the football team, but he was the quarterback of the Class 2A state championship football team.
Not only was he the point guard of the basketball team, but he was the point guard of the 2A state championship basketball team.
And not only was he the catcher for the baseball team, but he was the catcher for a team that came only one run shy of earning a state championship and completing an unprecedented (in the state of Washington) "Triple Crown" title.
"Josh is not a guy that's about stats - he's about winning, and he's about his teammates," Roper said. "He is a competitive kid and he's a selfless guy. I think his teammates feed off him, his energy and the positive attitude he brings to everything he does."
For those reasons, Kraght has been selected The Bellingham Herald's All-Whatcom County Boys' Athlete of the Year.
"It's been quite a ride," Kraght said in a phone interview in between sessions at the Eastern Washington University summer football camp, as he and his teammates prepared for the 2012 season. "I really can't ask for anything more. I've been blessed. To play for a town like Lynden and for the coaches I've had and the teammates I've gotten to play with, it's something that I'll never forget."
It's unlikely the town of Lynden will soon forget what Kraght meant to their beloved Lions this past year anytime soon, either.
"I think anybody that crosses paths with Josh Kraght, whether you're a teammate, coach, parent, fan, opponent or official, he's going to make an impact on you, and you're going to remember him for quite a while," Lynden baseball coach Cory White said in a phone interview.
Kraght was one of only three Lynden athletes to play in all three state title games this school year, joining Matt Meyer and Zach Vis.
And it's likely none of those teams would have been quite as successful without Kraght leading the way.
"In every sport he participated in, there was no doubt who was the leader in the huddle - on the field or on the court," White said. "His presence on any field demands respect. It's not that he commands it - it's just his work ethic and his attitude. He's a guy that constantly has the ship headed in the right direction."
Kraght said he doesn't focus on being a leader, and he looks up to other players on the team. But there's no doubting that he is a natural leader, no matter what season it is.
"I like being able to talk to my teammates and get them pumped up," Kraght said. "I never felt like I had to be a leader, but I know sometimes the coaches look to me to say what needs to be said. It's not something I really think about, but I like being able to talk to my teammates."
But Kraght is more than a natural leader - he's a natural athlete.
During his first two seasons as Lynden's starting quarterback, Kraght has rushed for 1,486 yards and 31 touchdowns, passed for 3,573 yards and 44 touchdowns and directed the Lions to the state playoffs both years.
During the baseball season, he hit .309 (26 for 84) with 20 RBI, 10 extra base hits and 16 runs scored.
But he always seems to save his best for when the games matter most.
"Josh is a gamer," Roper said. "We played our best at the end of the season, and a big part of that was because Josh played his best at the end of the year. He shot the ball well from the perimeter, especially in that regional game, when we had to come back against Sumner. At the state tournament, he was a lock-down defender, and he was the quarterback of our team, directing our team when the games meant the most."
It wasn't the only time Kraght did that.
He hit a go-ahead home run in the baseball state regional in Lynden's win over Kingston and nearly hit another blast in the state championship game.
He also directed a comeback win over Chehalis W.F. West with a pair of touchdown passes in the football state semifinals a week before leading the Lions to an unlikely fourth-quarter comeback over Archbishop Murphy in the championship game.
So after a year like 2011-12, what could Kraght possibly have in line for his senior year?
"We have a lot of returners, but stuff happens," Kraght said. "You just never know. We need to keep our edge and keep working hard and see what happens. ... You couldn't give me a better group of guys to play with. I couldn't put a price tag on them. We've been growing up playing ball together for the past 10 years, and it's something I don't ever want to end."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2271.
Football: Helped guide Lynden to the Class 2A state championship. ... Equally dangerous running the ball as he is throwing it. ... Passed for 2,201 yards and 25 touchdowns against only five interceptions. ... Rushed for 601 yards and 17 touchdowns. ... Rushed for 254 yards and nine TDs in the first two rounds of the state playoffs. ... Also a standout in Lions' defensive backfield. ... Selected the Northwest Conference 2A/3A Most Valuable Player for the second straight year and was a first-team pick at quarterback and defensive back. ... Selected first-team all-state at quarterback by the Associated Press.
Basketball: Quarterbacked the Lions' offense as the team's point guard. ... Averaged 3.3 points per game, but meant much, much more as a floor leader and calming influence, as he helped guide Lynden to a 2A state championship. ... A great facilitator, who helped five Lions average more than 6.0 points per game. ... Also able to play lock-down defense, especially in big games.
Baseball: A steadying presence behind the plate with an outstanding arm and showed great ability to come up with the big hit near the top of Lynden's lineup. ... Batted .309 (26 for 84) with 20 RBI, 10 extra-base hits, including two homers, and scored 16 runs. ... A second-team All-Northwest Conference selection as a position player. ... Helped Lynden reach the 2A state championship game for the first time in the program's history.
Cross country: Won the individual title at the Class 2A State Championships in Pasco - his second straight top-10 finish at state - with a personal-best time of 15 minutes, 28.8 seconds and helped the Storm finish sixth. ... Also won the titles at the 2A Northwest District Meet (16:03.73) and Northwest Conference Championships (15:31.57). ... Won every race he competed in this fall except for the Sept. 17 South Whidbey Invitational, when he placed second. ... Selected the All-Northwest Conference MVP.
Track: Won the 2A state title in the 3,200 meters with a personal-best time of 9 minutes, 1.86 seconds. ... Also placed second in the 1,600 meters at state in a personal-best 4:11.29. ... Won the 2A Northwest District titles in both events in 9:07.00 and 4:21.52 and claimed the 1,600 at the Northwest Conference Championships. ... Was unbeaten in the 3,200 this year and won all but two times he entered the 1,600.
Football: A big, physical presence on the left side of Lynden's offensive line that teamed up with guard Taylor Witman to form probably the best tandem in Whatcom County. ... Helped the Lions win a Class 2A state title. ... Part of a line that helped Lynden amass 5,276 yards of total offense and 73 touchdowns this year. ... Lynden also started to lean on him more as a defensive end as the season progressed. ... Selected to the All-Northwest Conference 2A/3A second team.
Basketball: The strong, athletic big man that became a force in the paint for the Lions this season. ... Led the Lions in rebounds and shot almost 60 percent from the floor. ... Finished third on the team with 9.5 points per game. ... Helped lead the Lions to the Northwest Conference championship with a 12-1 conference mark, advance to state and win the Class 2A state championship. ... Selected first-team all-NWC.
Baseball: Amazing flexibility and athleticism for a player his size made him a vacuum cleaner at first and always a threat at the plate. ... Batted .329 (27 for 82) and walked 15 times. ... Also scored 19 runs, drove in 11 and belted a home.r ... A first-team All-Northwest Conference selection as a position player. ... Helped Lynden reach the 2A state championship game for the first time in the program's history.
Football: A physical beast at defensive end for Lynden with his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and a motor that never quit. ... Great athleticism allowed him to rush the quarterback, stuff the run or drop into coverage. ... Part of the Lions defense that held opponents to 12.1 points per game this season and helped win the Class 2A state title. ... Also used on the offensive line and at running back, where he rushed for four short-yardage touchdowns. ... Selected to the All-Northwest Conference 2A/3A first team. ... Selected first-team all-state by the Associated Press.
Wrestling: Despite limited wrestling experience, advanced to the 2A State Tournament but did not place after losing in OT in the second round and losing in a 2-1 decision in the consolation bracket. ... Earned a record of 21-6 with 19 pins. ... Got hot toward the end of the season and won tournament titles at the Northwest Conference Tournament, sub-regional and 2A Northwest regional. ... Will be one of Lynden's top returners next year.
Track: Finished 10th in the 400 at the 2A State Championships with a time of 51.44 seconds. ... Won the 2A Northwest District title in the event with a personal-best time of 50.72 seconds and placed fourth at the Northwest Conference Championships (52.30 seconds). ... Also was part of Lynden's third-place 4x400 relay at state and ran on the 4x100 relay.
School: Mount Baker
Football: A big, physical presence up front for the Mountaineers. ... Played a big role in Mount Baker limiting opponents to 18.2 points per game this season and advancing to the Class 2A Northwest District Playoffs. ... Also played along the offensive line, helping Mount Baker tally 2,736 yards and 33 touchdowns rushing and average 7.5 yards per carry. ... Selected to the All-Northwest Conference 2A/3A first team on both lines. ... Selected first-team all-state by the Associated Press at offensive line and honorable mention on defense.
Wrestling: Joined Lynden's Jeremy Korthuis as the only two Whatcom County state champion wrestlers. ... Wrapped up a strong senior season and an outstanding career with a pin 38 seconds into his 2A state title match. ... Earned a season record of 39-1 with 27 pins and ended his career with 129 wins and 100 pins. ... A dominant heavyweight with a mix of strength and agility. ... Finished in third place at the Tri-District Tournament, where his only loss occurred. ... Won tournament titles at the Battle at the Border, Mount Baker/Gus Compton Invite, Vashon Invite, Sky Valley Classic, Northwest Conference Tournament, sub-regional, and 2A Northwest Regional. ... Also a standout on the Mount Baker football team.
School: Mount Baker
Football: Finished third in the Northwest Conference with 1,413 yards this season and scored 21 touchdowns. ... Led all NWC backs with at least 25 carries with his 9.1 yards per attempt. ... Helped the Mountaineers reach the Class 2A Northwest District Playoffs and post a 7-3 record this year. ... Has rushed for 3,209 yards and 44 touchdowns the past two years. ... Selected to the All-Northwest Conference 2A/3A first team as a running back and defensive back. ... Selected first-team all-state by the Associated Press.
Wrestling: Qualified for the 2A State Tournament for the second year in a row but did not place after going 0-2. ... Had a record of 27-8 with 18 pins. ... Finished second at the Vashon Invite and fourth at 2A Northwest regional. ... Won tournament titles at the Sky Valley Classic, Lynden Invitational, Mount Baker/Gus Compton Invite, sub-regional and Northwest Conference Tournament. ... Also a standout on the Mount Baker football team.
Baseball: Hit .290 (18 for 62) with two doubles, three triples and a homer. .. Drove in nine runs and stole 10 bases on 12 attempts. ... Helped the Mountaineers improve their win total by five games under first-year coach Quinn LeSage.
Athlete School Sports
Konstantin Andrushenko Sehome Football, basketball, track
Eddie Avena Blaine Football, track
Mitch Beard Nooksack Valley Cross country, track
Spencer Blackburn Meridian Football, track
Daniel Canzater Ferndlae Football, basketball
Luke Christianson Lynden Football, baseball
Tyrel Cronk Mount Baker Football, wrestling, baseball
Oliver Dougherty Bellingham Football, track
Reed Henderson Sehome Cross country, track
Chase Heslep Meridian Football, basketball, baseball
Deion Hoskins Lummi Football, basketball, baseball
Jarek Jensen Squalicum Football, track
Conner Johnson Sehome Cross country, track
Johnny Murphy Meridian Football, baseball
BJ Salmonson Nooksack Valley Football, basketball, track
Jake Schroeder Ferndale Basketball, baseball
Denver VanderYacht Meridian Football, basketball, track
Zach Vis Lynden Football, basketball, baseball
Nolan Wolffis Lynden Christian Tennis, basketball, baseball
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.