Nathan Dunford has shown an affinity for reaching new heights at Mount Baker.
He already has a Class 2A state championship in pole vaulting in his back pocket and owns the top vault in the state of Washington so far this spring at 16 feet, 1 inch.
In choosing to continue his career at Trinity Western University, Dunford hopes to continue going higher and higher.
"Their coach is Rob Pike, who jumped 18-5 in his time," Dunford said in a phone interview. "He's coached guys to more than 19 feet. I'm really looking for a chance to work with him."
Dunford chose the Langley, B.C., school over Western Washington, in part for the opportunity to work with Pike.
"I really liked the coaches up there," Dunford said. "I liked the small school, and I really liked the Christian university, where they will help build my faith."
And the Spartans are happy to have him after he officially signed his Letter of Intent on May 7.
"Today our team got better and our faith community got stronger," Spartans coach Laurier Primeau said in a school press release about the signing. "The addition of Nathan to the TWU track and field squad means that we are going to be a formidable vaulting school for the foreseeable future. We expect to see him achieve great things in 2014."
Dunford already owns a leap that would have earned him a gold medal in Canada West competition and would have placed among the top three at this year's Canadian Interuniversity Sport national competition.
Dunford said he plans to manage in Business Management and combine that with Outdoor Recreation.
"I'm not sure what I want to do yet, but I know I want to be outside," Dunford said.
FAKKEMA TO WALK ON AT CENTRAL
James Fakkema got to know the team and campus pretty well at Central Washington University over the past three years when he and the rest of the Blaine football team went to the Wildcats' summer football camp.
"It was really fun," Fakkema said in a phone interview. "The have 20 some teams that go there every year. Half the team goes and stays in the dorms. It's some great team building, and we see a lot of good teams over there. It's a great camp and you learn a lot about your team. I think it's one of the main reasons we were as successful as we were."
The senior liked what he saw so much that he's decided that is where he wants to go to play college football, making the selection over Eastern Oregon and Northwest College in Iowa.
"It's close, and it's bigger," Fakkema said. "Playing for a Division II school, rather than an NAIA like those others I looked at, the competition's going to be better. It will be more challenging."
Fakkema will head to Ellensburg without a scholarship, but as a preferred walk on, meaning he is guaranteed a spot on the Wildcats' roster next fall, rather than having to wait until next spring to try walking on.
"To earn a scholarship, you've got to show that you're a starter-quality player pretty quick," Fakkema said. "Hopefully I'll start seeing some varsity time as a sophomore so that I can earn a scholarship."
To help with that, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder is contemplating a move from his usual position at defensive end to outside linebacker.
"When I talked to the coaches, they said the main reason I didn't get a scholarship is because they were concerned I was a little smaller than most defensive linemen," Fakkema said. "They want me to work on my speed and see if I can try outside linebacker. Once I'm there, I'll see what the coaches say. I'll do whatever they want and go as hard as I can."
That's something Borderites fans are definitely used to seeing out of Fakkema, as he was a standout on defense for the team. He also was part of the offensive line that paved the way for Montana State Northern-bound running back Mario Gobbato to rush for nearly 5,500 yards the past two seasons.
He also was selected Blaine's Male Athlete of the Year on Thursday, May 16, at the BHS Recognition Night.
Fakkema said he is undecided on a major, but he's considering professions as either a history educator or in athletic training.
STATHAM HEADING TO HAWAII-HILO
When Nicole Statham steps off the plane next summer to move into her college dorm, it will be her first time ever in Hawaii.
"I know it won't be cold, and that will be nice," Statham joked in a phone interview.
Statham this week signed her National Letter of Intent to play women's soccer for the University of Hawaii-Hilo, making the choice over Northwest Christian University and Florida Southern College.
"I really liked the coach, and I liked her coaching style," Statham said. "We really connected when we talked. I've never met her in person, but over the phone, we seemed to get each other right away."
The Vulcans are led by Unity Beddingfield, who will enter her second season leading the program next fall.
"I know they won more games under her this year," Statham said. "She's trying to build the program, and I believe she can do it. It's pretty exciting to think about being a part of building a program. ... I know she's really into the fitness of her team, and that's perfect for me."
The Vulcans are an NCAA Division II program that plays in the Pacific West Conference.
Statham said she plans to play either defense or center midfielder for Hilo after she scored two goals and logged six assists last year for Blaine.
She also hopes her signing serves as inspiration for future Borderites.
"I'm hoping people will see that hard work and dedication will help you come from somewhere like Blaine, where we haven't traditionally had strong soccer players," Statham said. "You can still get there."
Statham said she plans to major in Communications and minor in Linguistics and hopefully pursue a career as a public relations specialist, and she said Hilo should help her with those goals.
SMITH CHOSES TENNIS OVER LOCATION
Sehome senior Nick Smith faced a difficult choice between Pacific Lutheran University and Montana State when he was deciding on a college.
PLU perhaps would offer him a chance to play tennis in school, while Smith said he didn't figure he'd have a chance to play at an NCAA Division I school like Montana State.
"Location was a huge part of it," Smith said. "I could go to Tacoma or go to a place in the middle of the mountains in Montana. Tennis kind of won out over location."
Smith obviously decided to become a Lute.
He'll still have to try out for the tennis team, which plays in the NCAA Division III Northwest Conference.
"They don't recruit anyone or guarantee anyone that they will play," Smith said. "I'll have to try out, but that's fine with me."
Smith said he got a chance to watch the Lutes play a match and meet with team members and coaches earlier this year, and felt he would fit in well.
Last fall Smith was 16-1 in singles play, mostly as the Mariners' No. 2 singles player, and he went 5-0 in doubles play, including 4-0 in the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament, as he and partner Brady Anderson won the district title and will play in the 2A State Tournament next week in Seattle.
Smith said he is undecided on a major, but is leaning toward studying a science - perhaps Biology or Physics - so that he can get a career in dentistry or engineering.
MANKLE GETS HER SHOT TO PLAY FOR MORGAN
Sehome senior Hannah Mankle knows Whatcom Community College women's soccer coach Claire Morgan pretty well from her time coming up through the Whatcom Rangers program, but she's never gotten a chance to play for her.
That will change for her next year, as Mankle signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Orcas.
"I'm excited to be coached by Claire," Mankle said in a phone interview. "I think she's a good coach, and I'm excited for the opportunity. It will be a new change for me."
Mankle said she made the choice to start her collegiate career at WCC over Montana State and Washington State.
She'll likely remain on defense for the Orcas, after spending most of her time with the Mariners and Rangers on the back line.
Mankle scored three goals and logged an assist for the Mariners last fall.
Though she said she is undecided on a major, Mankle is considering majoring in engineering.
"I still might transfer to Montana State or play soccer somewhere else," Mankle said. "It all depends how the next two years go."
REED TO JOIN OVIATT AT SKAGIT VALLEY
Squalicum's Kyler Reed decided to go back to something familiar to start his collegiate running career.
Reed will run cross country and track for Skagit Valley College, where former Squalicum coach Peter Oviatt is now the head coach.
"Peter and I have always gotten along really well and had a great relationship," Reed said. "I'm just really excited to run under him again, and this seemed like a good opportunity. Hopefully after a couple of years, I'll be able to transfer to a D-I program somewhere and run really fast."
Reed is already doing that, as he qualified for this week's Class 2A State Championships in the 100 and 200 meters and as a member of the Storm's 4x100 and 4x400 relays on Friday, May 17, at the 2A District 1/2 Meet at Civic Stadium. He owns the state's sixth fastest times in the 100 and 200 by a 2A runner entering the state meet.
But Reed isn't only speed. He's also a strong distance runner, who qualified for the state cross county meet his freshman and sophomore seasons and went to cross country nationals while running for Oviatt.
"That was an amazing experience," Reed said. "Every chance he got, Peter was running behind me calling out times and stuff. He's a really passionate coach, and I'm excited to run for him again."
Reed plans to major in Sports Physical Therapy or Physiology, as he hopes to become a trainer.
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or call 715-2271.