EVERETT – NCAA Division I scholarships are hard to come by, so whenever someone from a small town like Oroville earns one, it’s something special.
Catie Arrigoni, who always thought of herself as a basketball player until she was introduced to cross country during her senior year of high school, recently accepted a full scholarship for her final two years of college to Eastern Washington University after turning in two highly successful seasons at Everett Community College.
Arrigoni, who was being recruited by a number of four-year schools, said EWU’s team atmosphere and education program were the deciding factors.
“I felt everyone was super positive and we will have a good team next year,” Arrigoni said. “I believe we can make an impact next year in our conference. They also have a great early education program and that being my major made it a very easy choice.”
She said that she never saw herself as a runner during high school and didn’t run competitively until her senior year.
“I loved basketball and always thought my future was with it,” she said. “After joining cross – because I told my friend on the team I’d run if she would play soccer – I ran my first race in Omak and from then on knew I wanted to run. Not during the race, of course – I felt like I was dying – but after when I could see the finish line and knew I was going to make it, and crossed the finish line second to my good buddy and teammate (Sierra Speiker).
“I will never forget that day.”
The one-two combination of Speiker and Arrigoni led Oroville to a fourth place finish at the state meet. Speiker won her first state title as a freshman, while Arrigoni took fourth as a first-year runner.
She drew enough attention with that and basketball that she signed with Everett to play both, and averaged 3.2 points per game in 22 games for the Everett women’s basketball team in 2011-12.
The greater intensity of college training and competition forced the inexperienced Arrigoni to grow as a runner, and her times have accordingly dropped during her two-year career at EVCC. Even as a freshman, she was consistently in the team’s top five, but with her focus solely on running this year, Arrigoni improved even more as part of Everett’s NWAACC champion cross country team, which set a conference record with its score in the championship meet with five of the top seven finishers. Arrigoni was one of five Trojan women to receive all-America honors.
The improvement in her performance over her EVCC career can be seen in a “snapshot” of her runs at the Sundodger Invitational in
West Seattle, where Everett competed against a number of four-year colleges as well as other two-year schools. As a freshman in one of her first races, Arrigoni finished 57th in the 6k race with a time of 23:41 in 2011, but this past fall moved up to ninth in 22:37.
Everett also won the NWAACC title last season.
“It changed my life; I would have never gone to college or be getting my college paid for without running,” she said. “It is definitely a sport where you get what you put in and I love that!
“I have learned so much from running the last two years for EVCC and met the most amazing people.”
She didn’t see the running career coming, but is glad she accepted the challenge.
“I am so happy the turn my life took that race day in Omak,” Arrigoni said. “Running opened so many opportunities for me and I am so proud and thankful for everyone who got me where I am today.”