Lynden Christian graduate senior Willy Scholten figured he was just going to play a round of golf at Lake Padden Golf Course and pick up a few tips from the instructor he had been working with a little over the last year.
But it turned into much more.
On the first hole, Luke Bennett, who will be taking over the Western Washington University men's golf team after Steve Card stepped down to focus on his new duties at interim athletic director at the school, asked Scholten if he would consider playing for the Vikings.
"It was completely unexpected," Scholten said in a phone interview. "I was going to ask him what he thought about my college options, and he ended up asking me right away."
A week later, Scholten made a visit and decided it was the perfect fit, as he made his selection over Northwest Nazarene, a community college in Spokane and Grand Canyon University, which had fallen out of the running early.
"They have a great atmosphere there, and Western has got a great program," Scholten said. "They finished in the top four (at the NCAA Division II National Championships)."
Scholten said he is "mostly self taught" when it comes to golf, but he does occasionally like to visit an instructor to help find areas for improvement.
He first enlisted Bennett's assistance about a year ago, and revisited him as the high school postseason was approaching this spring.
"I try to go once a year to see what I'm struggling with and get tips," Scholten said. "This year, I was struggling with my putting, and he walked the course with me and made sure my course management was good. It was toward the postseason, and it really seemed to help me then."
It certainly did, as Scholten ended up finishing tied for fourth at the Class 1A State Championships, rebounding from a first-round 82 to shoot a 70, which was the lowest final round, helping the Lyncs place second as a team.
"I guess I'll have to call him (Bennett) 'Coach' now," joked Scholten, who plans to major in Business Management.
PFANNENSTIEL STAYS CLOSE TO HOME
When it came down to it, Squalicum graduated senior Jason Pfannenstiel didn't see any reason to leave town.
"I like the location," Pfannenstiel said in a phone interview. "Everything is around here - the San Juans, the mountains and most importantly, I've got pretty much my entire family living here."
That location ended up being the deciding factor when Pfannenstiel was weighing Western Washington University against Pacific Lutheran.
He ended up choosing the Vikings and will compete for the track team.
"I just love it around here," Pfannenstiel said. "It was too hard to leave, and Western is a great school anyways."
WWU definitely should benefit from his decision.
Pfannenstiel will enter coming off a strong senior season when he placed eighth in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles at the Class 2A State Championships. He had personal bests in the state preliminaries of both events with times of 15.24 and 39.59 seconds, respectively.
Pfannenstiel also was part of the Storm's sixth-place 4x100 relay team and wrapped up his high school career by running the leadoff leg for Squalicum's state championship 4x400 relay team.
"Even now, it seems surreal," Pfannenstiel said. "It's finally kind of sinking in that I'm a state champion. ... It feels good, but I know I need to keep working and continue to work hard if I want to continue success at the same level."
Pfannenstiel expects to fit in nicely with Western's hurdles, sprints and relays crews.
"They've got a pretty young and successful team," said Pfannenstiel, who said he plans to major in Computer Science. "It's going to be quite the competition here at home."
REARDON DRAWS RARE OFFER FROM CALVIN
Calvin College men's soccer coach Ryan Souders doesn't usually offer spots on his team roster to players he hasn't seen.
Seeing as how the Knights finished runner up in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2011 and won the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title and advanced to the first round of the D-III tournament last fall, Souders can afford to be a little more picky.
But Souders got a glowing review from Lyncs coach Brent DeRuyter on Lynden Christian graduated senior Luke Reardon and saw enough in his video to offer Reardon a spot on Calvin's preseason team next fall.
"I was ready to have my Rangers coach call him if he needed more, but he said he had enough," Reardon said in a phone interview. "He said it was one of the first times he's ever done this, but obviously, it would have been hard for me to fly out to Michigan and let him see me play. It means a lot to me, because I don't know how else I could have gotten on the team."
Reardon said he chose to head for Grand Rapids, Mich., over Whitworth University and Azusa Pacific.
"I have the ability to play soccer there," Reardon said. "I might have been able to play at Whitworth, but they didn't need too many defenders, which is where I've been working the most. They have good academics, and I wanted a strong academic and sports program. I know a lot of people that are going to Calvin - there's kind of a Lynden connection. I never really thought about it, but it turned out to be perfect."
Another member of the Lynden-Calvin connection is Toby Dalla Santa, whom Reardon said plans to major in engineering and possibly try to join the soccer team later.
Reardon said he plans to major in Business and possibly minor in Physical Therapy and Spanish.
But he plans to start playing right away.
As a member of the 32-player preseason team, he'll get to try out to make the 28-man varsity roster. If he doesn't make it, he'll get the chance to work his way up from the junior varsity squad.
Though he played mostly center back for LC, scoring 11 goals and registering nine assists in helping the Lyncs finish third in the Class 1A State Playoffs, he said he probably doesn't have the size to play that position in college. He'll likely move to an outside back position, but he wouldn't be surprised to end up in the midfield or even at forward.
"(Souders) told me he doesn't look at a player for a specific position," Reardon said. "He looks for players that have the foot skills, technical skills and work ethic he looks for, and then finds the right position for them. I have no idea where I'll be playing, but that's OK, because in high school, I played just about every position."
OPPORTUNITY OPENS FOR HOMMES
When Lynden graduated senior Maddi Hommes started talking to Seattle Pacific University about joining the volleyball program back in February, she was told there was no room.
"They had used all their scholarship money," Hommes said in a phone interview. "They wanted me to play, but there simply was no scholarship left."
Hommes elected to sign with Bellevue Community College, thinking she would try again with the Falcons in two years.
Turns out, she didn't have to wait that long.
"They had a couple of girls get injured or decided it wasn't a good fit, so some scholarship money cleared up," Hommes said.
And when the Falcons came calling with an NCAA Division II opportunity not only to play volleyball but also compete for the SPU track team, Hommes jumped.
"The most difficult part was telling my teammates and coach (at Bellevue)," Hommes said. "I had talked to a number of them and gone to a few open gyms. I knew what I had to do, and that was the hard part. ... A couple of the girls I was talking to said they were excited for me."
The next hardest part for Hommes is still to come - competing in two completely different sports as an Applied Biology major as she works to become a physical therapist.
"I imagine it's going to be pretty difficult," Hommes said. "They've warned me that I'm going to have to become a gym rat. The two teams have already agreed that I'll have a split commitment - I'll focus only on volleyball during the fall and just on track during the winter and spring. I'll be working out year-round, which is pretty much what I did in high school, but obviously I'm going to be competing at a higher level."
If anybody can do it, it would be Hommes.
Not only did she compete in volleyball and track while at Lynden, she also played basketball - something she said she has no plans to try at SPU.
In addition, Hommes was an outstanding student, graduating as a valedictorian.
With the volleyball team, which went 14-13 last year, Hommes said she will likely start in the middle and move to the outside. Hommes was one of the Lions' kills leaders last fall and was selected second-team All-Northwest Conference.
For the track team, Hommes plans to compete in the heptathlon, an event she's never competed in before. In fact, she's never competed in the shot put, javelin or hurdles - all events in the heptathlon - but Hommes is confident she can pick them up quickly.
"I'm already practicing them, even if it's just in my own backyard," she joked.
CRONK KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE
Mount Baker graduated senior Tyrel Cronk showed he is plenty capable of playing alongside NCAA Division I-caliber football players last month at the Earl Barden Classic 2A/1A/B All-State Football Game in Yakima.
Not only was Cronk selected Most Inspirational Player by his teammates, but a number of coaches took notice of him for his play during the game, when the linebacker logged a dozen tackles.
Cronk now will try to prove himself one more time, as he will attempt to walk on at Eastern Washington University. The 5-foot-11, 216 pounder, who also anchored the Mountaineers' offensive line at center and helped lead the team to its first trip to the Class 1A state semifinals last fall, did not receive a preferred walk-on offer from the Eagles, meaning nothing is guaranteed.
"I've got one last shot at the dream," Cronk said in a phone interview. "I'm going to try to walk on this year, and this will be my last chance. I'll be in the best shape I've ever been in and give it everything that I've got."
Not having a preferred walk-on offer means that Cronk will have to wait until after the first day of classes on Sept. 26 to start proving himself.
"I definitely thought I'd get my chance to go play somewhere, but now it's all up to me," Cronk said. "I could have played somewhere small, like (University of Puget Sound). But I was kind of surprised after playing in the all-state game and going up against all those D-I guys that I didn't get some offers. But now I know I've got one last shot. I know when I put the pads on I don't look 5-11, so hopefully they'll see something they like. ... If not, that's when real life starts."
Cronk said he is undecided on a major but is anxious to get in the college classroom to discover what interests him.
To report a Whatcom County student athlete planning to compete in college, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2286.
A look at the Whatcom County student athletes who either have signed National Letters of Intent or are planning to be student athletes in college:
Student athlete High school Sport College
Rachel Albert Sehome Basketball Western Washington
Elsa Balton Sehome Sailing Western Washington University
Bo Banner Sehome Football Central Washington
Kelli Bannerman Ferndale Soccer Saint Martin's
Emma Bennett Ferndale Track and field Whitworth University
Grace Bills Ferndale Volleyball Whatcom Community College
Carlee Bock Squalicum Swimming Seattle University
Isaac Bogart Lynden Soccer University of Redlands (Calif.)
Ashley Bolick Blaine Softball Lewis & Clark College
Brooke Bonsen Lynden Softball Bellevue Community College
Tom Bradley Blaine Cross Country/track San Francisco
Brooke Branigan Bellingham Golf Western Washington
Jeremy Brockmann Meridian Baseball Centralia College
Casey Bromet Meridian Soccer Corban University
Mariah Brown Lynden Basketball Whatcom Community College
Aaron Burke Bellingham Baseball Oregon Tech
Rowan Chappell Bellingham Cross Country Evergreen State
Joe Charbonneau Bellingham Cross Country/track Seattle University
Alex Check Bellingham Baseball Bellevue College
Luke Christianson Lynden Baseball Lower Columbia College
Lisa Collander Sehome Sailing Lewis & Clark College
Alex Conley Ferndale Football Whitworth University
Tyrel Cronk Mount Baker Football Eastern Washington
Noah Cyr-Moore Sehome Basketball Westmont College
Bret DeGraaff Lynden Football Whitworth University
Josh DeVenere Ferndale Cross Country Skagit Valley College
Andrea DeVere Squalicum Soccer Biola University
Nathan Dunford Mount Baker Track and field Trinity Western
Cambie Edwards WCC Basketball Southern Oregon
Gus Evans Squalicum Swimming Denison University
James Fakkema Blaine Football Central Washington
Marcus Fakkema Lynden Lacrosse University of Great Falls
Gina Flint Squalicum Track Washington
Brittany Gappa Squalicum Cross country/track Boston University
Patrick Gibson Squalicum Cross country/track Stanford
Mario Gobbato Blaine Football Montana State Northern
Daniel Goebel Sehome Baseball Westmont College
Sydney Gray Meridian Cross country/track Pepperdine
Patrick Gregory Sehome Swimming Cal Lutheran
Tanya Haggen Sehome/WCC Soccer Redlands University
Alexa Harrington Squalicum Tennis Upper Iowa University
Maddi Hommes Lynden Volleyball/track Seattle Pacific
Bella Hoyos Bellingham Tennis Whitworth University
McKenzie Impero Nooksack Valley Volleyball Whatcom Community College
Kahokuloa Kauhi Sehome Volleyball Everett Community College
Devon Kollmyer Lynden Soccer Simon Fraser
Tyler Knutsen Sehome Baseball Hawaii-Hilo
Josh Kraght Lynden Football Portland State
Bridget Kruck Lynden Christian Softball Mesa (Ariz.) Community College
Charlie Linneman Sehome Basketball Carleton (Minn.) College
Erika Locker Ferndale/WCC Basketball Central Washington
Brice Longanecker Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Forrest Longanecker Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Hannah Mankle Sehome Soccer Whatcom Community College
Jake Manson Sehome Baseball Yakima Valley
Max McGuinn Meridian Football University of Puget Sound
Relijah McMillen Meridian Track Skagit Valley College
Nathan Meppelink Lynden Christian Basketball Biola University
Matt Meyer Lynden Football Washington State
Larkyn Nelson Bellingham Soccer Peninsula College
Caleb Newman Lynden Football Army
Daniel Nielsen WCC Basketball San Diego Christian
Tanner Olson Lynden Baseball Lower Columbia College
Audrey Orem Bellingham Golf Western Washington
Bree Park Meridian/WCC Basketball Southern Oregon
Zoe Peterson Squalicum Track and field Carleton College
Jason Pfannenstiel Squalicum Track and field Western Washington University
Dillon Quintana Mount Baker Cross country/track Gonzaga
Austin Rapp Sehome Football Washington State
Abbi Rautenberg Meridian Golf Lewis & Clark College
Luke Reardon Lynden Christian Soccer Calvin College
Kyler Reed Squalicum Track and field Skagit Valley College
Matt Richard Bellingham Baseball Linfield College
Chad Richter Meridian Baseball Centralia College
Palmer Sandel Blaine Football Western Oregon
Auden Schilder Bellingham Soccer Washington
Jake Schmidt Meridian Track Skagit Valley
Willy Scholten Lynden Christian Golf Western Washington University
Dak Shagren Lynden Basketball Northwest University
Rachel Short-Miller Bellingham Soccer Hesston (Kan.) College
Nick Smith Sehome Tennis Pacific Lutheran
Austyn Sprague Ferndale Baseball Everett Community College
Melissa Stadt Nooksack Valley Basketball Skagit Valley College
Zach Stalin Mount Baker/WCC Basketball Masters College
Nicole Statham Blaine Soccer Hawaii-Hilo
Michael Steele Ferndale Soccer Oregon State
Brooke Steinberg Bellingham/WCC Soccer Western Oregon
Lindy Swanson Nooksack Valley Basketball Whatcom Community College
Amanda Tapia Lynden/WCC Basketball Vancouver Island University
Jack Thompson Sehome Sailing Western Washington University
Jade Thurston Bellingham Soccer Whatcom Community College
Kayla Tiemersma Lynden Christian Basketball Whatcom Community College
Truman Van Dalen Lynden Christian Basketball Skagit Valley College
Thomas Vazorka Bellingham Football Idaho State
Cody Velthuizen Lynden Chistian Cross country/track Trinity Christian
Zach Vis Lynden Football Montana
Emily Visser Lynden Christian Cross country/track Dordt College
Ryan Wallen Blaine Golf Wyoming
Sydney Wasilewski Meridian Volleyball Walla Walla Community College
Alex Wilkinson Sehome Volleyball Whatcom Community College
Corrie Wilson Ferndale Softball Saint Martin's
NOTE: Sehome cross country and track and field student athletes removed from this list and can be found on B5.
Reach DAVID RASBACH at email@example.com or call 715-2271.