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Five years after reopening, Lincoln baseball heads to state tournament with unfinished business

The varsity program is only three years old, but has become an immediate state contender.

SEATTLE — This feels like a long time coming for Lincoln baseball. It feels like a blast from the past.

The Lincoln High School Lynx are headed to the 3A state tournament this weekend.

For the Seattle-based high school, it's unfinished business that spans across generations.

"This is where I grew up," said head coach Ray Atkinson, someone who knows well what it's like to get to this point.

The Lincoln team he played for made it to the state quarterfinals twice in the 1980s.

Credit: KING 5 Sports

He never won a state title though, and didn't even get to try for one as a senior.

"I graduated in 1982, but they closed the school in 1981," he said.

The reason for the closure was low attendance. The school stood for 72 years was shut down.

"It was sad. It was different," Atkinson said. "It was just disappointing you didn't get to finish where you started."

Four decades later, that's exactly what he's doing. A school closure in 1981 has led to personal closure in 2019 when it returned.

"I said, 'Hey if that school ever reopens, that's a job I want.' Just being able to come to the field you played at in high school, come to the school you played in high school, just coming home, that's been really special," he said.

"Special" is also a good word for the left arm of Bjorn Johnson.

He's the top pitching prospect in the state of Washington, and said his team has been throwing curveballs to the rest of the Metro League since they started as a varsity program just three years ago.

"Our first season as sophomores, we took the league by storm," he said.

Lincoln then won the league this year as seniors.

"And when the last out hit, I think everyone realized what we just did," Johnson said.

"Lincoln hadn't won a Metro League Championship since 1976," Atkinson said.

The first four-year graduating class since the school reopened has already accomplished a lot, even more than Atkinson anticipated.

"As I was taking the job, I was really like, 'You know, you're going to have to be patient, calm,' some things that I really wasn't," he said.

The timeline was expedited thanks to Johnson and others.

A school that had been closed for so long now has a window that's wide open.

"Bringing the first state championship to Lincoln since the reopening would be an amazing feeling and I think we have the power to do that," Johnson said.

Some say the sequel is never better than the original.

That's not the case here.

It would be the first baseball state title in school history.

"To be a new school and be able to accomplish that would amazing," Johnson said.

The Lynx are four wins away from finishing the business that's been 40 years in the making.

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