KENNEWICK — It's Kamiakin's world; everyone else is just running in it.
In terms of the Mid-Columbia cross country scene, that's an apt description of this last fall season.
The Braves boys and girls not only dominated league meets -- at times placing their full squad of seven in the top 10 -- they performed well at the big races and brought home a bounty of state hardware.
And, to top it off, Kamiakin swept the Tri-City Herald's All-Area awards. Seniors Anthony Armstrong and Stephanie Rexus were selected the male and female runners of the year, and coaches Matt Rexus and Shaun Suss the boys and girls top coaches.
"It's definitely a dream season," said Armstrong, who won the Class 3A state championship to go along with titles at SunFair and Richland as well as the Northwest regional for Nike Cross Nationals.
"The state title, being on the podium as a team -- that was the biggest goal this year, making the podium as a team. Individually, I wanted to win state, Nike Northwest, BorderClash, go to nationals, and it's played out how I wanted it to."
The Braves finished third at state as a team, earning the area's first boys 3A or 4A trophy since Richland placed third in 1995. Armstrong brought home the first individual 3A or 4A boys title to the Tri-Cities since Hanford's Adam Tenforde in 1998.
Tenforde went on to run at Stanford. Armstrong, who rates as one of the best high school distance runners in the country, also is going to have a lot of options. He's waiting until after nationals in December to make his college visits, though one of them will be to Syracuse in New York.
This is the third straight season Armstrong has been named runner of the year -- he is the first three-time ROY and four-time first-teamer among the boys since the all-area team began in 2002.
He currently holds the 3A distance triple crown, having won the mile and 2-mile state titles in track last spring.
"He's definitely getting into some pretty lofty company right now," said Matt Rexus, who got his first state trophy in 24 years of coaching. "Three (state titles) already is impressive. If he puts up a couple more, not very many kids in this state at the 3A or 4A level have been able to do that."
Armstrong is joined on the first team by two fellow Braves: senior Austin Richards and sophomore Keegan McCormick. Walla Walla senior JP Wolpert joins Richards and Hermiston junior Eduardo Juarez as two-time selections. Juarez is one of three Hermiston runners on the first team, with sophomores Alejandro Cisneros and Jose Macias also making the cut off the Bulldogs' second-place Oregon 5A squad.
On the girls side, Stephanie Rexus made a big jump into the state's elite runners this season, finishing fourth at state and leading the Braves to a second straight fourth-place state trophy.
They are the first Tri-City 3A or 4A girls team to post back-to-back podium finishes since Richland finished third in 1992 and won the championship in '93.
"I don't think I ever thought I would be as good as I am now," Rexus said. "I never expected to take fourth in state. My freshman year, people were asking me, 'Are you going to win state?', and there was no way I was ever going to do that."
The title may not have come, but Rexus matched the pace of some of the best in the Northwest. She posted the seventh fastest time overall among girls at state, and the second among all seniors.
"What's really amazing," she said, "my freshman and sophomore year we tried so hard to get a team to state and it didn't happen. And then last year and this year to place at state ..."
"It was a good year all around," Suss said. "We've had a couple of good years. Hopefully it keeps going."
Rexus is one of two seniors on the girls first team, and she is joined by Kamiakin junior Michelle Fletcher. Both are second-time selections, while Walla Walla junior Rachel Nelson was chosen for the third time.
Southridge senior Rachel Dahl and a pair of Richland runners, junior Lauren Perry and freshman Lindsey Bradley, round out the team.
Boys: Taylor Kraal, sr., Kamiakin; Austin Oser, jr., Kamiakin; Garrett Kraal, so., Kamiakin; Seth Deal, jr., Waitsburg-Prescott; Hayden Wise, sr., Moses Lake; Nick Lumetta, sr., Tri-Cities Prep; Javier Velasco, sr., Hermiston
Girls: Hannah Hampson, so., Walla Walla; Kolby Childers, jr., Prosser; Emily Kump, fr., Southridge; Sidney Bullock, fr., Richland; Catherine Feistner, so., Walla Walla; Natalie Cory, fr., Kamiakin; Sydney Blaser, sr., Kamiakin