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Local runners reunite at Everett CC
MARYSVILLE Former Tomahawk runner Matt Koenigs watches as the girls 5k race wraps up on the track at M-P Sept. 27.
Im pretty sure I won this race when I was in high school, Koenigs says.
But now, the 1998 Marysville-Pilchuck graduate is back on his old campus for a different reason a couple of reasons, actually. In his second year as the coach of the Everett Community College cross country team, hes here to recruit local runners to his fledgling program.
And he has brought his defending Northern Region Championship team along to work out.
The team is led by a pair of locals too ECC sophomores and Lakewood High School alumni Nate Zahn and Cullen Cantwell. The duo serves as captains to a team stocked with 22 freshmen.
Neither Zahn nor Cantwell had planned to take up competitive cross country after high school. The pair came to Everett to get requirements out of the way on their way to four-year degree programs.
Its kind of funny the first year I was at Everett, I didnt run, Cantwell says. There wasnt much of a program. The next year, we decided to run regardless. Then Matt came along.
Koenigs found the two former Cougars through Lakewood coach Jon Murray.
As the veterans of the regional championship team, Cantwell and Zahn say one of their responsibilities is helping the freshmen used to the high school-standard 5k race make the transition to the 8k. Thats a distance just shy of five miles.
You have to run it smarter, says Koenigs, who specialized in the track 1,500 meters when he competed as an undergraduate at Western Washington University. He added that NCAA competition distances extend upward to the 10k.
Cantwell says he and Zahn also help Koenigs build the program a contrast to the well-established Lakewood program that groomed them.
He adds that one of the challenges he enjoys most about running at Everett the increasing level of competition, something he hopes to continue when he transfers out of Everett next fall. Cantwell wants to study history at Seattle University, in hopes of becoming a teacher and coach.
Theyre going Division I next year. I know Id get so much better against that kind of competition, he says.
Zahn adds that he plans to continue running, competitively or otherwise. The sophomore plans to continue studies in physical therapy at Pacific Lutheran University.
As for Koenigs, he appears to enjoy the challenge of coaching. Calling himself a student of the job, the coach trains with his athletes, and comes to the program after completing a law degree at UW.
I decided I had to do something with my life Id really enjoy, he said.