Lakewood benefits from hard work as nine Cougs go to state

BELLINGHAM — Lakewood senior Devon Smith thought about where this team has been since the beginning of the season, to where it is now.

“This team has a lot of talent. The coaches made us work hard this whole season and now it’s paying off. For a lot of people it just clicked at districts,” he said.

And boy did it click. Nine Cougars will be representing their school in the state track tournament. The boys finished in third place at the district meet in Bellingham on May 20 and 22. Second-place Lynden edged out the Cougars by two-thirds of a point in a district that most claim is the toughest in the state.

Along with Smith, the Cougars heading off to state include seniors Nikolay Borisov in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, Anthony Tanner in the 110 hurdles, Spencer Hulslander in the pole vault, Payden Butler and Cameron Hess in the javelin, and Lacey Nation in the 3,200. Joining that crew are juniors Nick Howe in the 800 and Taylor Guske in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Qualifying for state is one thing, but becoming district champion is a bigger challenge. Seniors Butler and Hulslander overcame that hurdle.

Hulslander is still surprised he managed to beat the competition and tie a district record of 14-0.

“It was a complete surprise to me,” Hulslander explained. “I came in that day thinking not even thinking I would make a height. I was so hurt that I had no idea what was going to come out of it. I knew I could make it, but it was up to my body if I was going to do it or not.”

Butler will be accompanied by his teammate Hess, who finished second in the javelin, giving the Cougars a powerful one-two punch.

“Cameron and I always dreamed about going one, two at districts and here we are,” Butler said.

Nikolay Borisov is one of two Cougars who are going to state in multiple events. Borisov hasn’t been to state since his freshmen year. He had surgery on his knee as a sophomore and had trouble coming back. Now he’s ready to be a competitive force and represent his school at the state meet.

The only girl to make it from the Cougars was senior Lacey Nation who finished fourth in a very tough 3,200 race. Less than half a second went from the third-place finisher to the fifth-place finisher.

“It was little bit unbelievable,” Nation explained. “I didn’t even know I got through after my race. I’ve been training for this for four years. I’ve never even been to districts before and now I’m going to state this year.”

That determination put the Cougars into the state tournament.

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