Two more Penguins will go down in history as the best competitors in their sports.
James Breen and Bryan Berg will receive NWAC Baden Athlete of the Year awards at the Red Lion in Bellevue on June 2, making them two of three Clark athletes to ever win the award.
Breen was a sophomore cross-country athlete and Berg was a sophomore guard for the men’s basketball team this year.
Anteneh Woticha was a former track athlete for Clark, and won the NWAC Baden Athlete of the Year award in 2013. Woticha competed in both the 800-meter and the 5,000-meter events.
Like Woticha, Breen runs long-distance.
This year he made history by becoming the first male athlete at Clark to win the NWAC championship in cross-country.
In his championship victory, Breen finished the 8-kilometer race with a time of 25:12 and beat the second-place runner, Jackson Baker from Clackamas Community College, by eight seconds. Due to Breen’s impressive showing in the championship, cross-country coaches across the NWAC voted him Athlete of the Year.
Breen looks to take his talents to the next level and said he is seriously considering Eastern Washington University as the next step in his track and academic careers.
EWU is in the Big Sky conference, a part of the NCAA Division I. The conference holds 12 schools in the regional area, including Portland State University and California State University.
If Breen decides to attend EWU, he will be joining former two-time NWAC Baden Athlete of the Year award-winner in cross-country, Daniel Schofield. Schofield attended Spokane Community College where he won the Athlete of the Year award for cross-country in 2013 and 2014. Like Breen, Schofield won the NWAC Cross-Country Championship in the 2014 season.
Breen said the cross-country coaching staff looks at an athlete’s overall ability when deciding if they are a right fit for the team.
“The coaches really judge on your time and consistency,” Breen said.
EWU head cross-country coach Chris Shane is a Brigham Young University alumnus, with experience as an assistant coach on the collegiate level at the University of San Francisco.
Berg, the second 2016 Clark recipient of an NWAC Baden Athlete of the Year award, has committed to Western Oregon University. Berg’s overall record at Clark is 48-15, where he scored over 1,000 points for the Penguins in back-to-back regional championship winning-seasons.
Head basketball coach Alex Kirk thinks very highly of Berg, and said that his best qualities are his work ethic and humility both on and off the court. Kirk described Berg as being “selfless,” meaning he understands his role and does what is needed to better the team.
“He understands who he is as a player,” Kirk said. “[He] knows his strengths and weaknesses.”
Clark College President Bob Knight called Berg “the consummate team player.”
“He did not seek the limelight but would step up and take over a game when his team needed him the most,” Knight said. “He was willing to be a role player when his team didn’t need him to be a scorer but was ready to be the go-to scorer at any given time.”
Both athletes will attend the award ceremony at the Bellevue Red Lion on June 2, along with five other athletes from four different schools.