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Everett Herald coverage of XC Championships

Everett Community College men and women win NWAACC cross country titles

Men dominate, end Spokane CC's 10-year championship run; women also victorious

EVERETT -- Winning a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges men's cross country championship on Saturday and ending Spokane CC's string of 10 straight league titles was enough to make it a great day for host Everett CC.

Tacking on a victory in the women's race made the day "just about as sweet as it gets," Trojans coach Matt Koenigs said.

"I'm just speechless, to be quite honest with you," he added. "The kids ran out of their minds today. It was awesome."

The Everett CC men dominated perennial league power Spokane CC and the rest of the field by finishing 1-2-3 and placing five runners in the top nine to easily outdistance their eastern Washington rivals, 21-59.

The individual winner was Bereket Piatt, a freshman from Port Townsend High School, who covered the 8-kilometer course at Legion Memorial Golf Course in 24:32 to edge teammate Bryton Reim, a sophomore from Mukilteo's Kamiak High School, by 13 seconds.

It was Reim's first loss to a teammate this season.

"I thought Bereket had a chance to beat Bryton if he could stay close because Bereket is a very smart, tactical racer," Koenigs said. "And, boy, he just threw down with about 1,200 meters to go and just run away with it. He had the race of his life."

Reim and third-place finisher Habtamu Rubio (24:55), another freshman from Port Townsend, "had their best races of the season," Koenigs said. "And if you have your best race on the last day, usually you're going to do pretty well."

Juan Castillo, a sophomore from Lake Stevens, placed sixth for the Trojans (25:10) while teammate Aaron Campbell, a freshman from Cascade, was ninth (25:18).

Only Clackamas CC had two runners finish ahead of Everett CC's top five.

"Our top three, they're like the best in the conference and I knew they'd do their part," Castillo said. "It was up to the rest of us to pull through. We had to do our job in order for this thing to work out and in the end we did."

Koenigs was hoping his squad could upend Spokane CC, but neither he nor anyone else expected such a lopsided margin.

"I think it's easier to run from the underdog role," he said. "The Spokane kids had a lot of pressure on their shoulders to bring another (title) home. But I have to take my hat off to them. If we don't have our best day, we may not beat them."

The Everett CC women, meanwhile, pulled out a narrow triumph in a tightly contested race over a 5-kilometer course. The Trojans finished with 56 points, followed by Treasure Valley CC (68), Clark College (74), Clackamas CC (76) and Spokane CC (77).

Katie Strong, a freshman from Kodiak, Alaska, was seventh for Everett CC (18:44), followed by Lacey Wagner, a freshman from Lake Stevens in 11th (19:21); Veronica Hall, a freshman from Marysville-Pilchuck in 13th (19:22); Catie Arrigoni, a freshman from Oroville in 14th (19:29); and Kristina Cordy, a freshman from Gig Harbor's Peninsula HS, in 20th (19:56).

"Our top seven just ran awesome," Koenigs said. "Our seventh girl was in front of the fifth girl from every team in the conference, and when you do that usually you're going to win.

Hall, he added, ran "the race of her life. If she doesn't have that race today, maybe we're second and maybe we're third. She stepped up big time."

Before the race, Hall said, "we knew had a good chance (to win). We all knew we had to do what we could in order to win, and that's what we did."

The races were held under dry skies, though the course was "pretty mucky" from recent rains, Hall said. "And it was really, really cold."

Koenigs believes the Trojans were helped by having the championships on their home course.

"The kids got to sleep in their own beds, eat what they regularly eat and just do their regular routine," he said. "When you have to get on a bus and travel for five hours, you have tired legs and maybe you don't sleep as well. But if you're able to stay at home, you're able to stay relaxed and stay in your routine, and then come out and do what you always do. And that's what we talked about all week."

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