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Warrior boys bring district crown home


by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior Devin Sellers won the Metro League District Championship on Oct. 23 and helped the Warriors win a team district title.

An infected foot wouldn’t prevent David Sellers from witnessing his son go wire-to-wire as the Metro League district boys’ cross country champion.

Turns out Aloha’s Devin Sellers and the rest of the Warriors weren’t going to let anything, not the muggy weather, not Jesuit’s jumble of pinning competitors stop them from claiming what was rightfully theirs — the district crown.

With Devin Sellers paving the way, the Aloha boys took second behind Lincoln at the Metro League Championship at Howard Terpenning Recreation Center on Oct. 23, but won the Metro League title based on a combination of their district results and regular season wins.

“We’re all brothers, and we all have each other’s backs,” said Sellers. “As soon as I turned around and saw them there, I knew we had it. I knew we were in it. We were all motivated. We all bought in and made it our race.”

Two years ago, the formerly sophomore-stacked Aloha boys’ cross country team created a pact

Metro League Championship or bust, the Warriors said on that first day of summer training in 2011. No more, no less than a dark blue trophy at the Metro League Championship on Oct. 23 would suffice.

“Everybody bought in,” said Aloha senior Glapougbae Garmondeh. “Everybody ran their race, and we did it. The six seniors on this team, we’ve been dreaming about this since our sophomore year. We knew we’d be faster, and we know this course by heart. So, we’ve been aiming at this for a long time.”

The majority of the Warrior boys’ team joined the “400-mile club” during the summer, which Garmondeh noted is actually a lot less than most teams do from June to August. But, Aloha was in attendance every day and saw the preseason preparation pay off.

“We just wanted to stay in the moment and take each mile one at a time,” said Garmondeh. “We know what we could do as a team and as individuals. We wanted to compete out there. Even though the seven of us won, this is for the whole program and (head) coach (Ken) Martinez. Our freshman year, we didn’t win a meet. Our sophomore year, we won two. Our junior year, we won five, and this year, we finished it off.”

A surge of Warriors came across the tape together in senior Brent Marsonette (14th place, 16:36), sophomore Luis Torres (16:37), senior Daniel Rodriguez (16:38) and senior Joel Kramer (16:42). That foursome’s rush to the finish line ended up being the difference over Jesuit, who came in third place.

“We did it for the Aloha community and for the school, too,” said Garmondeh. “We did it for everyone that believed in us.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior Glapougbae Garmondeh took fourth overall at the Metro League District Championship and helped the Warriors win a team title.

‘True blessing’

David Sellers has never missed one of his son’s cross country races, and though he had surgery on his infected foot Oct. 21, there was Mr. Sellers in a walking boot cheering on Devin near the finish line as the Warrior senior crossed in 15:47. Hobbled and hurting, but still full of zeal, David Sellers gave his Metro League championship medal-wearing son a big bear hug after the race. It was a well-deserved reward for the Warrior senior, who was the odds-on favorite going into the race and had the mental peace of knowing David was screaming and cheering along the course.

“It was a true blessing to have him here,” said Devin Sellers. “When I’m running and I’m in the zone, I can only hear my dad. It’s such a great feeling knowing he’s there, yelling at me to go faster. My legs are telling me to stop, but he tells me to keep going. I love him for being here.”

Sellers said his goal was the same as it has been all season: grab the lead by the neck and never let go.

“I wasn’t going to let somebody else lead it,” said Sellers. “I wasn’t going to stay behind the pack or pace with them. I was going to stay in the front and run my race. The last thing you want to do during a race is think. You make them think and look at your jersey and think, ‘Oh my gosh, blue is in front of me so I have to go faster.’ I thought I just had to stay at that pace and stay out in front.”

Jesuit’s Sam Remington and Sahil Doshi did their darnedest to test Sellers, but the Warrior was hyped from the gun. Remington (15:51) and Doshi (15:52) took second and third, respectively. Remington took the lead for a bit, at the very beginning of the race, but just couldn’t quite catch Sellers.by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Sam Remington, front, and Sahil Doshi, back, took second and third place overall at the Metro League District Championships.

“I knew he didn’t have the grit I had,” said Sellers. “I knew I could get out in front of him and make him think even more. I didn’t feel any pressure.”

Eager to erase the painful memories of last year’s 12th place finish at district, Sellers told himself he was going to attend every summer practice and run 400 miles over the course of three months with the rest of the Warriors. Head coach Ken Martinez gave each of the Warriors a goal sheet, which the motivated Sellers quickly filled out and confidently returned with a declarative statement.

“I said, ‘I don’t have vacations. I plan around cross country’,” remembered Sellers. “That was my motivation this summer to work hard every single day. It was hard. I had to cancel a lot of plans, but I made it to every single practice. It was all totally worth it.”

Working together

Remington and Doshi got out ahead of Sellers in the first mile, but let Aloha’s first finisher get away during mile two. Nevertheless, both Crusader seniors worked together better than they have all season, especially at the finish, and didn’t let Sellers run away and hide. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset junior Mark Sussman placed ninth overall at the Metro League District Championship.

“Last week (at Aloha’s home meet), I didn’t really give myself a chance at the start,” said Remington. “Sahil and I wanted to challenge Sellers that whole race and beat him to the woods, which Sahil executed really nicely. We were hoping to push the pace out in the second mile, and it kind of went back and forth out there.”

Doshi, Remington and Max Hite get to extend their final seasons by another week and will represent Jesuit at the 6A state championship. Freshman Logan Phillips ran a 16:42 to take 18th place, and Spencer Grant ran a 16:48 for 21st.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” said Remington. “It’s a really young team, and it’s the first time they’ve been in a district setting like this. It’s unpredictable being in this environment for the first time. All in all, we didn’t want it to be this close, but I know these guys laid it all out there.”

The Sunset boys’ team was visibly disappointed after the races at the Metro League awards ceremony in their overall performance, seeing that the Apollos had eyes for a state meet berth. Senior Mark Sussman finished ninth and senior Grant Bingham was 11th. Nonetheless, Apollo junior Maneet Khaira (16:10) made the grade as an individual, placing seventh overall. On that first mile especially, Khaira wanted to stay in back of Sellers and Remington, who ran a 4:40 first mile. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Sunset junior Maneet Kharia qualified for the 6A State Championships by running a 16:10 at the Metro League Championship meet, good enough for seventh.

“If you open fast, you go into oxygen debt, and that makes it tougher to run faster as the race progresses,” said Khaira. “I wanted to be a little bit more conservative at the start and see how many people I could catch at the end. I was cramping at the end a little bit, but I just had to push through.”

“I didn’t really expect to make it at the beginning of the season, to be honest,” continued Khaira. “Things weren’t looking too good, but this means a lot. I get to represent my school and maybe qualify for BorderClash (in November). I haven’t quite taken miles off yet, so I think I can still peak a little bit later on.”

Southridge junior Zach Cooper was the Skyhawks’ top finisher by running a 16:45, good enough for 19th place. Westview’s Nikhil Anand (16:50.41) and senior Jake Schmerber (16:50.81) placed 22nd and 23rd.