Sports

Top 10 Whatcom County Sports stories of the year

A look at the top 10 sports stories of 2007 as selected by the Sports staff of The Bellingham Herald:

1. SEHOME WINS SPRING SPORTS TRIFECTA

Most schools would consider winning three state titles a pretty good year. But the Sehome athletic program brought home that many first-place trophies on one Saturday. First the Mariners won twin Class 2A boys’ and girls’ track state titles in Tacoma, and they followed it up with the school’s second state baseball championship in Wenatchee.

As if that weren’t enough, the Sehome boys’ tennis team earned its best finish at state, placing third.

“I can tell you it was really exciting,” Sehome athletic director Colin Cushman said of the feat.

In all, the Mariners finished 2007 with five team championships, adding girls’ cross country and girls’ swimming titles in the fall.

May 26 started off with the Mariners locking up the boys’ track title in morning competition after Steven Ayers led a 1-2-3 finish in the shot put. It was Ayers’ second individual title of the meet, as he also won the discus a day earlier. Sehome also added an individual title from Mason McHenry in the 1,600 and beat second-place Prosser and Burlington-Edison by 40 points.

The girls’ team had to wait awhile before celebrating its team title, which was won by seven points over second-place Burlington-Edison. The Mariners girls did not have an individual champion, but the second-place finish by Hannah O’Neal, Jordan Billiot, Alex Marcus and Annie Moore in the 1,600 relay locked up the team title.

The Sehome baseball team capped off the unbelievable day with its 6-1 victory over No. 1-ranked Selah in the championship game. The title was the Mariners’ first since 1983 and completed a 22-4 season. Kai Hatch threw a complete-game two-hitter in only his second start of the season. Hatch, who struck out seven, also scored the game’s first run in the first inning on a single by Jordan Chambers. Adam Rager, who helped the tennis team earlier in the day at Yakima, made it to Wenatchee in time to help win the state title, as well.

2. LOCKER BECOMES UW’S TOP DOG

The Jake Locker era at the University of Washington got off to a rousing start as the former Ferndale quarterback led the Huskies to a 42-12 victory at Syracuse. Locker, a redshirt freshman, passed for 142 yards and rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the game.

Though his numbers weren’t always sparkling and UW finished a disappointing 4-9 after starting the season 2-0, Locker showed the skills that made him a highly sought recruit with 2,062 yards and 14 TDs passing and 986 yards and 13 TDs rushing.

3. LYNDEN CONQUERS THE DOME ... AGAIN

The Lynden boys’ basketball team won its seventh state championship, beating No. 1-ranked Mark Morris 62-44 for the Class 2A crown.

The title capped off a school year in which the Lions won the football state title in the fall and the basketball championship in the winter. It was the third time the school accomplished the feat, following 1981 and 1992. Four of Lynden’s starting five — Chris Bolt, Brady Bomber, Dirk Dallas and Chas Kok — also starred on the football team.

Lynden won 18 straight to claim the title and finished 25-2 overall.

4. VIKINGS NET A TRIP TO NATIONAL FINAL

The Western Washington University volleyball team advanced to its first NCAA Division II national championship match by beating No. 4 Washburn University 23-30, 30-23, 30-26, 30-20 in the national semifinals. The Vikings blew through most of their conference season and the regional tournament to the Elite Eight and rode a 21-match win streak into the final.

But second-ranked Concordia-St. Paul ended WWU’s hopes for a national championship in four games in the final.

5. MERIDIAN WINS ONE FOR THE COUNTY

Despite its success in a number of other sports, Whatcom County did not have a high school girls’ soccer state championship until Meridian claimed the Class 1A crown this fall.

The Trojans had to work to win the title, as they battled La Salle to a scoreless tie through regulation and overtime. In a shootout, Meridian converted its first four attempts before goalie Brittany Schindler batted away a La Salle attempt to lock up the title.

The Trojans, who had three other top-four finishes the past six years, finished the season 19-7.

6. BELLINGHAM GETS A SECOND CHANCE

The WIAA gave the Bellingham football team’s season a second life when it ruled Archbishop Murphy had to forfeit its state play-in game victory over the Red Raiders and its spot in the playoffs for using an ineligible player. With Bellingham advancing, seven of 11 Whatcom County football teams qualified to their respective state tournaments.

Bellingham made the most of its chance, beating Mark Morris 23-13 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs — the Red Raiders’ first state playoff game in 20 years — before falling to eventual champion Prosser.

7. POST 7 ADVANCES TO WORLD SERIES

After winning the American Legion state baseball championship, Post 7 King Nissan became the first team from Whatcom County to advance to the Legion World Series by winning the Northwest Regional tournament.

Post 7 dropped its opener at Lewiston, Idaho, but came back to win five straight games, including a 2-1 victory over the host Lewis-Clark Twins in the regional championship game.

At Bartlesville, Okla., Bellingham once again dropped its opening game, staved off elimination once, but had its season end at 55-8 with a 7-3 loss to Eden Prairie, Minn.

8. RED RAIDERS ROLL TO SIXTH STRAIGHT

Not even a strange second day could keep the Bellingham girls’ golf team from its sixth straight state title.Katie Sharpe and Claire Rachor led the way, finishing first and second individually in Class 2A, respectively, as the Red Raiders tallied a school-record 156.5 points at Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club.

Sehome finished second behind Bellingham, claiming its first girls’ golf state trophy. Squalicum’s Matt Rawitzer advanced to a playoff for the boys’ Class 3A individual title, as Whatcom County golfers made the most of their home-course advantage.

9. BARRON HEATING’S STREAK CLIPPED

After finishing second to perennial powerhouse Barron Heating the previous two years, ClipperCanoes.com finally managed to ring the bell first to win the Ski to Sea overall title.

Kayaker Ian Mackenzie, who watched a lead disappear in his final leg last year, wouldn’t be denied as he helped his team complete the 82.5-mile, seven-leg journey in five hours, 48 minutes and eight seconds. Mackenzie finished less than a minute ahead of Barron Heating, which was attempting to win the overall title for an unprecedented fourth straight year.

10. COUNTY RUNNERS LEAD THE PACK

Whatcom County continued to be dominant at the state cross country championships in Pasco as the Sehome girls defended their Class 2A team title and Squalicum’s Bronwyn Crossman won her second straight 3A individual crown. The Mariner boys narrowly missed making it a Sehome sweep as they finished second to Burlington-Edison in a tie-breaker.

Annie Moore’s second-place finish led four Sehome girls’ runners in the top 30, as the Mariners scored 79 points to beat out second-place Bellingham’s 91.

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