A high school football team trying to win a state championship. A blind track and field runner and the teammate who served as his guide. And a television star’s son commuting 1,000 miles to play hockey in Everett.
These were some of the stories that captured the imagination of The Herald’s online readers in 2019. The stories that drew eyeballs to our website and compelled internet surfers to click on those headlines that transform from black to blue when the cursor passes over them.
So without further ado, here are The Herald’s top 10 sports stories of 2019, based on the number of web views:
10) It’s a Snohomish County party in the FCS national championship game.
One of the most-read stories of 2019 was also one of the first. The NCAA’s Football Championship Series title game took place on Jan. 5, and the presence of the Eastern Washington Eagles meant there was a strong Snohomish County presence in the game.
A total of 10 players from Snohomish County High Schools were on Eastern’s roster, as the Eagles took on perennial powerhouse North Dakota for the national championship. We took a capsule look at the 10 players in advance of the game, a group that included starting tight end Henderson Belk from Kamiak, key defensive reserves Andrew Katzenberger from Lynnwood and Anthany Smith from Mariner, and third-team All-Big Sky long snapper Curtis Billen.
9) AquaSox athletic trainer breaks down gender barriers.
From the time the Seattle Mariners began play in 1977, every athletic trainer at every level of the system, from the major leagues to rookie minor-league ball, was male. But in 2019 Amanda Lee changed that.
Lee, a native of Glenpool, Oklahoma, became the first female athletic trainer in Mariners franchise history when she served as the Everett AquaSox’s athletic trainer during the 2019 Northwest League season. Although Lee didn’t get into the profession to become a gender champion, she’s successfully navigated her way thorough a male-dominated environment — while fully enjoying the Pacific Northwest’s summer.
8) Lake Stevens High School football’s run comes to an end.
For much of the season the Vikings were the top-ranked Class 4A team in the state, and Lake Stevens hoped it would go one step further than the previous year, when the Vikings finished as state runners-up.
However, Lake Stevens’ season came to an earlier-than-expected end when the Vikings lost 24-22 to Mount Si in the state quarterfinals in November. Lake Stevens came into the game outscoring its opponents by 45.6 points per game, but despite 316 yards passing by Tanner Jellison and two rushing touchdowns from Dallas Landeros, the Vikings were never able to dig themselves out of an early hole.
7) Mariner High School freshman takes his soccer talents international.
The calendar year saw one of Everett’s own elevate himself to the highest possible level of his sport for his age.
Angel Martinez, a central defender with the Seattle Sounders FC Academy, spent the year establishing himself with the under-15 United States boys national team. That included representing the U.S. at the Torneo della Nazioni in April and May in Italy, as well as the CONCACAF U-15 Boys Championship in August in Florida. Martinez was a regular starter during both tournaments, despite being the youngest player on the team, and he’s now announced himself as a player to watch in the national team player pool, now and into the future.
6) Looking for a good fall fishing location? Try this quiet Whidbey lake.
Maybe we’re letting the cat out of the bag, but south Whidbey Island is the home of a secluded lake that is perfect for anglers who are looking to avoid the autumn fishing crowds.
Lone Lake, a 101-acre lake located near Bayview, is a selective-regulations fishery located off the beaten path. Therefore, the lake profiled in October is the perfect spot for anglers seeking to catch and release fish in the 15-to-18-inch range while using just flies or lures with a single barbless hook. Provided you’re willing to make the ferry ride, of course.
5) Sport specialization is on the rise, but is it worth it?
The growing trend in youth sports, not just in Snohomish County but across the nation, is for kids to pick one sport to specialize in. This is happening at ever younger ages. The number of three-sport high school athletes has dwindled to almost nothing as kids are steered into concentrating on a single sport, believing that is the only path to a college scholarship
But is specializing in one sport really the right thing to do for getting a college scholarship? Is it in the best interest in the athlete’s long-term health? And what has the effect been on high school sports? In this August deep dive, we examined the pros and cons of sport specialization.
4) Lake Stevens football gets its revenge.
In the 2018 Class 4A state championship game, the Union Titans smashed the Vikings’ dreams of a first state title in school history, beating Lake Stevens 52-20. The stakes weren’t quite as high when the teams met again this November, but the Vikings were able to gain a measure of revenge when the teams played in the first round of the state playoffs.
Lake Stevens used a career game from Landeros — 272 yards rushing — and a crucial late-game interception by Gage Ramsey to exorcise some demons and defeat Union 28-21 to advance to the state quarterfinals.
3) A dismal forecast for salmon season.
When the forecasts about the upcoming salmon fishing season were released in March, there was little in the way of good news for local anglers. The forecasts for the number of chinook, chum and pink salmon expected to return to spawn in Washington rivers was down significantly.
There was some consolation based on the coho run forecasted to take a slight bump from the 2018 numbers. However, overall salmon fishing prospects were bleak. The primary reason for the decline in the number of salmon was theorized to be the degradation of salmon habitat in the rivers.
2) A blind runner from Snohomish claims state titles — with an assist from his guide.
Then-Snohomish High School sophomore Humoody Smith has been blind since he was shot by insurgents in Iraq at the age of 2. But being blind didn’t prevent Smith from winning state track and field championships in the ambulatory 100, 200 and 400 meters in May.
But Smith coudn’t have done it without his guide, then-senior Zeb Kumley, who helped keep Smith in his lane as they ran side-by-side, tethered by an elastic band at their wrists. Not only did the pair develop a championship-winning rhythm, the experience created a close friendship.
1) Candace Cameron Bure’s kid comes to town.
Maks Bure wasn’t your typical member of the Everett Jr. Silvertips 16-under elite youth hockey team. First, he commuted 1,000 miles from Malibu, California, to be on the team. Second, he’s the product of famous parents — his mother is Candace Cameron Bure, who played D.J. Tanner on the 90s television sitcom Full House and is the star of countless Hallmark Channel movies, and his father is Valeri Bure, a former NHL All-Star.
But though his circumstances were unusual, it didn’t prevent Maks Bure from being a valuable member of a team that headed to the NAPHL’s Dixon Cup playoffs in February in Detroit as one of the favorites.