Lynden seniors Luke Christianson and Tanner Olson have not had enough of each other yet. After growing up playing baseball together in grade school, middle school and high school, they've decided to continue their playing careers together at Lower Columbia College next year.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Olson said in a phone interview. "It's great to know I'll have someone down there I've been playing with forever - one of my buddies."
Both have already signed National Letters of Intent to play for the school that former Meridian standouts Zach Slesk and Chase Heslep currently play for and that has claimed 10 Northwest Athletic Association of Community College championships since 1970.
"It's definitely one of the select schools at this level," Christianson said. "You look at schools like Pierce and Tacoma, this is right up there if not above those. I've heard a lot of good things about the program, and their resume of what they have done the past couple of years is pretty impressive."
Christianson was recruited to play outfield, and the speedy center fielder should quickly make a home there for the Red Devils. As a junior, he hit .314 (27 for 86) with a homer, nine RBI, 30 runs scored and 11 stolen bases in helping the Lions reach the Class 2A state championship game.
He hopes his time in the NWAACC - a wooden bats-only conference - will help make him a better hitter and help him catch the eye of a professional scout.
"I've been hitting with a wooden bat since I was in middle school," Christianson said. "I've played a lot of games with a wood bat. I might be more comfortable with a wooden stick. In fact, I have to start getting used to using a metal bat again for this spring. I might just swing a woody this year during high school, rather than metal."
Lynden coach Cory White might advise against that, but Christianson said he is excited to head to Longview to play, because he has plenty of family in the area.
Olson said the community also played a part in his decision to go to Lower Columbia over Pierce, Tacoma, Edmonds and Walla Walla community colleges, as well as Seattle University, Concordia University, Central Washington and New Mexico State.
"I liked the small-town feel," Olson said. "It was similar to up here in Lynden. It had a real home-type feel. It's far enough away, that I get out on my own, but still close enough that my parents and family can come down and visit and watch me play."
Though he was a regular starter at second base last year for Lynden, Olson was recruited as a pitcher. The right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.58 ERA in 26 2/3 innings last spring as a junior. He struck out 26, walked nine and held opponents to a .168 batting average (18 for 107). He is expected to see more time on the mound this year for Lynden, as his fastball topped out in the mid to upper 80s during offseason work.
Neither Christianson nor Olson have decided on a major, they said, but both hope to continue playing baseball once their two years are done at Lower Columbia.
KOLLYMER HEADING NORTH TO PLAY SOCCER
Lynden senior Devon Kollmyer loves playing soccer - so much so that she's currently playing for one team in an indoor league and one outdoor team in Canada. Obviously, that can make for some busy nights between practices and games for both teams.
"I've been playing soccer since I was 3 years old - select soccer since I was in seventh grade," Kollmyer said in a phone interview.
She should get to continue playing it for at least four more years, as Kollmyer has committed to play for Simon Fraser University next year and plans to sign her National Letter of Intent on Feb. 6.
Kollmyer said she made the choice over Western Washington, Trinity Western, Seattle Pacific and Central Washington.
"I wanted to try to stay local, so I looked at a lot of schools in our area," Kollmyer said. "I want to go pre med and become a doctor. Simon Fraser has a really strong science program, so it just worked. I really liked the atmosphere when I was visiting. Plus it's close to home, but it's not too close."
The Clan finished last in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference last year and was 1-16 overall, but Kollmyer believes the program is on the way up.
As a center midfielder, she quite literally could be in the middle of that revival.
"They're trying to rebuild and get a bunch of new players," Kollmyer said. "I think it's a good fit for me."
LIONS NAME NEW CROSS COUNTRY COACH
Kevin Richins admits that he wasn't a front runner when he ran cross country at Ellensburg.
"I was somewhere in the middle to the back of the varsity team," Richins said in a phone interview. "It wasn't about winning races for me - it was about being part of the team and getting better each race and each season."
That's the same mentality he plans to bring as the new coach of the Lynden cross country team in 2013.
Richins will take over for longtime Lions coaches Bob and Kris Carson, and Richins credited both for being mentors to him.
"Bob and Kris have done a tremendous job for us for the past 20 or so years," Lynden athletic director Mike McKee said. "Kevin was an assistant for them for a number of years, and he's got a lot of running experience and is building an outstanding teaching career here. When he decided to throw his hat in the ring, we were super excited."
Richins, who has taught history at Lynden for 11 years, said he has been an assistant with the cross country team "off and on in recent years," most recently in 2010. He's also coached jumps for the high school and middle school track programs for the past seven or eight years, he said.
Last year, the Lynden boys placed 12th at the ultra-competitive Northwest Conference Championships and 2A Northwest District Meet, while the girls were 10th at the district meet.
"Recruiting more kids to come out and participate is a challenge for any coach," Richins said. "We just need to get more kids out. One of my goals is to include as many kids as possible at Lynden, whether it be in cross country or wrestling, or whatever. I think every kid should have an opportunity to be a part of an athletic program in high school. I want to find kids that might not have thought of themselves as runners and teach them this is something they can do and be successful at. ... I want us to work hard, have fun and have success."
ALBERT WIAA ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Sehome senior basketball player Rachel Albert was selected a WIAA Athlete of the Week winner this week after she scored 22 points in a 49-39 victory over Bellingham on Friday, Jan. 18.
Albert surpassed 1,000 career points in the game, and also 10 rebounds and three assists.
Albert, who will head to Western Washington University to play next year, is fourth in the Northwest Conference with 12.9 points per game.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.