Warriors, Apollos neck-and-neck early in Metro season

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - The Aloha and Sunset boys cross country teams finished first and second, respectively in the opening Metro four-way meet last Wednesday.

There's a friendly rivalry brewing between the Aloha and Sunset boys' cross country team that began to bud at Beaverton's four-way meet at THRPD on Wednesday.

Friends away from the course who hung out together during the summer a few times for movie nights, the Warriors and Apollos each had five guys finish in the top-10, with Aloha squeaking out the overall team victory. Both squads have means of going after Jesuit for the Metro championship and each team thinks they have the horsepower to hoof by the Crusaders. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunsets Maneet Kharia, left, Mark Sussman, middle and Grant Bingham, right, helped the Apollos score 29 points at Beavertons four-way meet last Wednesday.

“We have really great depth,” said Sunset junior Mark Sussman. “We've worked a lot harder this year than we ever have in the past and I think that's really paid off. Our top mileage was 70 miles (a week) so our whole team has stepped up. We're hoping to go state.”

Sussman said Sunset's plan for himself, Maneet Khaira, and Grant Bingham was to run behind Marsonette for the first mile and gallop past him at the finish line. The scheme carried out well as Khaira (16:35), Sussman (16:37), and Bingham (16:40) went three-four-five to pull the Apollos (29 points) within just three team points of the Warriors (26 points). Sunset freshman Andy Muha (16:51) and junior Ben Kawasaki (16:54) were ninth and 10th overall.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha's Devin Sellers said he likes having teammates such as Giapougbae Garmondeh and Glapoujay Garmondeh to push him in practices and races.

Aloha's Devin Sellers (16:13) and Glapougbae Garmondeh (16:21) took first and second place, respectively to guide the Warriors past Sunset for gold in the team score. Senior Brent Marsonette (16:50) and sophomore Luis Torres (16:50) finished sixth and seventh for the Warriors. Seniors Daniel Rodriguez (17:01) and Joel Kramer (17:03) rounded out the top-11 at THRPD.

“At the finish line I noticed a lot of guy stepping up and that's what we need,” said Sellers. “These weeks we need to progress as a team and then hopefully all be there by the district race.”

Aloha's senior group has been together on varsity for three years, and they're pining for a Metro team championship. After going 5-1 in Metro last year only to fall just shy of Jesuit, the tight-knit Warriors have their sights set high. In relatively individual sport, the Aloha boys are an inseparable group who can be found cheering each other on at the finish line and pushing one another during the actual race.

“We all look at each other as brothers,” said Sellers. “You might have seen two guys fall behind, but there's going to be two more guys to take their spots. We have each other's backs and we're not going to let each other down because we all want the same goal.”

“Our goal is to win the Metro, so we just take it one step at a time,” added Garmondeh. “Hopefully, come district, we can get it. If we run our own races, we can do well.”

The Warriors have a set pace that they have to meet in practice and Sellers said they're always running as a pack and getting better as a team. The same goes for races, as well.

“I told my teammates 'Look for the blue in front of you. Go get the blue and work together,” said Sellers. “We never let each other slack off. We're always training no matter what. We looked at this as just another workout, just another day to push each other and go after our goal. I'm glad I have guys to push me every day.”

Garmondeh said he only wanted to stay up with Sellers and try to maintain the winner's race tempo.

“He went out really fast and I knew I had to stay with him,” said Garmondeh. “We had really good practice this week as a team and we were able to come out here and do a really good job.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior Jake Schmerber was the Wildcats first finisher at THPRD last Wednesday with a 17:04 finish.

After dealing with Diaphragm spasms for most of the season, Westview's Jake Schmerber ran pain-free for the first time and was the Wildcats' first finisher (12th place, 17:04). Schmerber was able to run with the spasms during Westview's first three races, but the sharp, shooting pressure running up and down his torso made running nearly unbearable.

“It was basically a side ache on steroids,” said Schmerber. “It hurt terribly. It was like a stabbing pain and when I took a step and ran it hurt even more.”

The senior started seeing a physical therapist in September where they worked primarily on breathing exercises and making sure Schmerber breathed down from his stomach instead of chest. The pain finally started to subside, culminating in Wednesday's breakout performance on THRPD's familiar course.

“I felt fantastic today,” said Schmerber. “Being a senior I've ran this course multiple times. It's always fast, it's always nice. I liked it. All the races I ran so far sucked at mile two because that's when the pain started coming on. I'm just happy to be back. I was able to go 100%.”

Schmerber said he thinks the Westview boys are going to come on strong towards the end of the season and put up a fight with Aloha and Sunset. Sophomore Nikhil Anand was the Wildcats' second finisher, running a 17:10 for 13th place. Nichols ran a 17:27 and Zachary McNulty was 30th with a 17:49. Westview finished third as a team with 87 points.

“At the end of the year, we'll really see what everyone's made out of,” said Schmerber.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton's Harrison Garrett nudged Westview's Morgan Nichols at the finish line to take 17th overall.

Beaverton's Harrison Garrett doesn't find running particularly enjoyable. Practices are grueling. Meets are taxing. But, that's the way cross country should be, the Beaver junior says. And, if Beaverton wants to get in the Metro mix, they're going to have to push themselves to their physical limits.

“Running isn't that fun, when it comes down to it,” said Garrett. “When it comes to workouts and races you're more focused on getting it done than having fun. We have to push ourselves and not take anything too easy. You always have to work hard.”

Garrett's been dealing with a bout of shin splints, but cruised through the first mile and perked up around mile two. The last 400 meters the Beaver junior picked up the pace and outsprinted Westview's Morgan Nichols and Drew Larabee for 17th overall. (17:27)

“You have to kick it, take whoever you can and don't let anyone pass you,” said Garrett. “I was able to breathe pretty good through the hills and everything so it was a good race.”

Individually, Garrett's much further ahead of his times from a year ago and said he's excited about the Beaverton boys' prospects for the rest of the year. Senior Drew Larabee finished on Garrett's heels at THRPD, finishing 19th overall at 17:28. Sophomore Zach Collins took 21st with a 17:32. Jared Rutherford placed in the top-30 for Beaverton, finishing 27th (17:37) to help the Beavers score 99 team points.

“Our team has a lot of depth, so I think we could be a surprise in the Metro,” said Garret. “We only have two seniors too. We have some youth on the team and a lot of work to put in before districts, so we just have to keep moving forward.”

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