By Aaron Coe
Two of the most accomplished high school athletes in Snohomish County history have decided where they will continue their careers next year.
Lake Stevens wrestler Burke Barnes, who will vie for his fourth straight state title this winter, has signed a letter of intent to grapple for Boise State next season. Snohomish’s Erica Chandler, who won six individual swimming titles win three state championships, will swim for Purdue.
Barnes, who is regarded as one of the nation’s top wrestling recruits, signed with the up-and-coming Boise State team that has been ranked in the top 10 the last couple of years. The 125-pounder chose the Broncos over Indiana, Oregon State, Northern Iowa and Oklahoma State. He is projected by most coaches to wrestle at 133 pounds.
Barnes received a full-ride scholarship, which is somewhat of a rarity in the sport. Schools are allowed to award only 9.9 scholarship for all 10 weight classes. Most of the time, coaches award partial scholarships to spread the money as far as possible.
“I’ve seen three-time national champions who are paying for half of their education,” said Lake Stevens coach Brent Barnes, who is Burke Barnes’ father. “This is a great thing for Burke – and of course for me.”
Burke Barnes, who helped the Vikings win Class 3A state titles in 1999 and 2000, chose Boise State because of the program’s potential and its proximity. There are no Division I wrestling programs in the state of Washington.
Brent Barnes believes his son has the potential for greatness in college and possibly beyond. Though competition for the Olympics is fierce, he thinks it’s possible his son might make the team some day.
“I believe he has the potential to win a national championship, or at least be a multiple-time All-American,” said Brent Barnes, who wrestled for Oklahoma State.
Burke Barnes, who hopes to become only the third four-time champ in state history in February, is expected to red-shirt his first year.
Chandler, who was a finalist for The Herald’s Women of the Year in Sports last year, chose Purdue for academic reasons and for a change in scenery. She considered Washington, Rice, Maryland and Wisconsin.
“I decided I wanted to do something different for four years,” said Chandler, who has a 3.8 grade point average. “It was really a hard decision between Purdue and the UW. I just felt very comfortable on my visit to Purdue.”
Snohomish coach John Pringle said he’s happy to see Chandler moving on to the next level, and noted that academics was a major factor in her decision.
“It’s very cool,” Pringle said. “I like the fact that she is continuing her education, that’s kind of the big deal. If they’re having fun swimming while they’re doing that, then that’s a plus.”
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