Everett CC takes aim at 10-time champs

If there’s a favorite to win Saturday’s Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges men’s cross country championship, it’s probably the team with the string of 10 straight NWAACC titles, Spokane CC.

But if there’s a team with a decent chance to end that decade-long run of championships, it might be the host team for this year’s event, Everett CC.

The Trojan men are expected to wage a tight battle with perennial power Spokane CC in a showdown at Everett’s Legion Memorial Golf Course. The day begins with the women competing on a 5-kilometer course at 11 a.m., and the men following with an 8-kilometer race at around noon.

The NWAACC championships bring together seven teams from Washington and five from Oregon for the annual season finale. It is, said Everett CC coach Matt Koenigs, “the focus for our entire year. This is big for us and we’d like to run well.”

Spokane CC’s men’s team has dominated the NWAACC in recent years, but the Trojans believe they have closed the gap. And on Saturday Everett CC is hoping to start its own string of titles.

Beating Spokane CC “would be huge,” Koenigs said. “The kids would be pretty excited to say the least. We’ve been working hard to be in a position where we can present them with a challenge.

“We’re hoping to prevent an 11th (Spokane CC championship). If we have our best day I think can do it, but a lot of that hinges on what Spokane does.”

The Trojans are led by Bryton Reim, a sophomore from Mukilteo’s Kamiak High School, who is the No. 1 runner in the conference by time and the school record holder in the 8K. Everett CC will also be counting on Habtamu Rubio, a freshman from Port Townsend; Aaron Campbell, a freshman from Everett (Cascade); and team captain Juan Castillo, a sophomore from Lake Stevens.

“Spokane is the team to beat,” Campbell said. “But if we play our cards right, we have a very good chance. … We’re pretty evenly matched, I’d say, so it should be a good match.”

Everett CC’s women, meanwhile, are probably one of six teams in contention for the title, with the others being Clark College, Spokane CC, Clackamas CC, Treasure Valley CC and Lane CC.

“We’re just hoping to have our best day,” Koenigs said. “If we win, we win. And if not, we’ll know we’ve had a successful season either way.”

The top Trojan runner is probably Lacey Wagner, a freshman from Lake Stevens, with Katie Strong, a freshman from Kodiak, Alaska, close behind.

“Our whole season kind of leads up to this,” Wagner said, “so everyone will be trying to do their best. I think we have a shot (to win), and it’d be super exciting if we did.”

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