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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gonzaga Prep senior, 18, wins Bloomsday T-shirt competition

UPDATED: Sun., May 9, 2021

It’s not easy for most teenagers to keep a secret. However, Andrew Nordhagen isn’t like most teenagers. The Gonzaga Prep senior is one of a few National Merit Scholars from Washington and will attend Stanford this fall. The class valedictorian has no problem with a gag order.

After sketching a few concepts on his iPad in class last year, Nordhagen submitted his concept for the annual Bloomsday Run T-shirt, the numbers 4 and 5, which mark the 45th anniversary of the event, on the Pavilion at Riverfront Park and the Monroe Street Bridge.

The north Spokane academic received a call from Bloomsday Race director Jon Neill last Thanksgiving congratulating him for winning the contest, a check for $1,000.

“Andrew is a very talented young man with a great future,” Neill said. “His design is fantastic.” Nordhagen, 18, who beat out 150 others for the honor, tied for youngest Bloomsday Race T-shirt winner. Lewis and Clark alum Bailey VanderWilde won in 2020.

“I’m still so proud, and I remember how shocked I was when I picked up the phone that morning when I found out,” Nordhagen said. “It didn’t seem real. I went back to sleep and wondered if it really happened when I woke up again.”

Nordhagen’s parents learned that their son, who doesn’t have a design or arts background, won the contest by watching the TV news last week.

“They screamed since they were so excited,” Nordhagen said. “Then they asked why I didn’t tell them when I knew all of this time.” It’s not the first design sale of Nordhagen’s career. The Spokane Camera Club purchased a design concept from Nordhagen last year. “I dabble since I love art,” Nordhagen said.

However, the Bloomsday accomplishment is significant since the event is meaningful for Nordhagen. “Ever since we moved here seven years ago (from Reno), we’ve run the race as a family,” Nordhagen said. Thanks to the pandemic, the race is virtual for the second year in a row. But that doesn’t dampen Nordhagen’s spirits.

“There is still value in a virtual race,” Nordhagen said. “There will be people running from 20 different countries this year, which is incredibly cool.” Nordhagen is uncertain if he’ll pursue a career in design or art but indicates that it’s possible. “I’m undecided about what I’ll do,” Nordhagen said. “I’m undecided about my major.

“I was planning to major in computer science, but I’m keeping my options open. It will be cool to combine computer science and art. I can’t wait to receive the physical shirt. I know how significant the Bloomsday event and shirt is to Spokane. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

For those who would also like a physical shirt, go to bloomsdayrun.org to register by Sunday and then complete a 12-kilometer run (7.46 miles) at any time for the souvenir.

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