Gearing up for football season wasn't the only time two of Highland's top seniors spent time working hard outside this summer.

Gabe Westergard (left in photo) and Lincoln Hakala dedicated plenty of effort to summer workouts and weightlifting, often while encouraging teammates to join them. But they also took on plenty of other tough responsibilities while helping out in their agricultural community.

"The hardest thing, honestly, is trying to get other people motivated," said Westergard, an Honorable Mention second team All-SCAC West running back last fall. "I love just doing things. All I do is just play Fortnite if I'm not exercising or something."

He found plenty of alternatives to video games this summer, from feeding animals around his family's farm to mowing lawns and pulling weeds for neighbors. Hakala threw a lot of passes to prepare for another season as the starting quarterback, but he also spent 40 hours a week picking fruit for Strand Apples in Cowiche.

Both help their parents take care of younger siblings, and coach Scott Sleater said Westergard sometimes brings his younger brother out to summer workouts. Underclassmen look up to the two seniors as well, and Sleater sees them lead in different ways.

"Gabe's always been someone who wants to talk positive no matter what's going on," Sleater said. "No one's harder on Lincoln than Lincoln. He definitely wants to do well and it's not about him, it's always about him helping others."

Westergard saw more commitment from his teammates this summer, and he's optimistic those efforts will pay off in another step forward for a strong senior class. The two seniors made key contributions in last year's 9-0 win over Goldendale, when Hakala threw a touchdown pass and Westergard rushed for 73 yards and made several key tackles as the gunner on the Scotties' punt coverage team.

After football season he switched his focus to wrestling and qualified for state at 138 pounds before joining Hakala on the track team's 4x400 relay in the spring. Both agree Hakala's a little faster, but Sleater said Westergard nearly caught up by the end of the season after recovering from an injury.

Sleater believes Hakala should reach the state meet in the javelin next year. The speedy safety and punt returner also started at guard for Highland basketball.

When they're not playing sports, Hakala and Westergard may often be studying this fall for their college-level courses, and Westergard will be the secretary in his third year on student council. Hakala hopes to become an aeronautical engineer.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," he said. "I'm taking certain math and Intro to Engineering classes."

Tags