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Brennan wins the battle, but Skyhawks win the war

Aloha's Brennan back and running strong as the 2006 Metro district meet looms closer
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, WORKING — Aloha’s Shelby Brennan powers through the middle of her team’s race against Southridge last Wednesday.

BEAVERTON - This fall's cross country season has been tough for the defending Metro League individual girls district champion.

Aloha junior Shelby Brennan suffered a stress fracture in her foot during the spring, then was sick earlier this season limiting her to just three races before Wednesday's dual meet against Southridge at Greenway Park.

But Brennan is feeling strong now and it showed as she ran away with the victory, completing the 5-kilometer course in 19 minutes, 34.42 seconds.

'I just need to get my head back into the game and not waste opportunities,' Brennan said. 'Right now, I'm not sick and my foot doesn't hurt. I just have to go out and prove myself.'

She did Wednesday, shooting out to a 200-yard lead by the end of the first kilometer and extending her advantage throughout the race, which weaved through four loops that met at a central park. Brennan beat the runner-up by more than a minute.

'My goal is to run a pretty even race,' Brennan said. 'I practice being alone and pushing myself.'

Brennan ran alone much of the race and was just one of three Aloha runners among the top-11 of the combined varsity/junior varsity runners.

Despite losing one of its top competitors moments before the start of the race, Southridge finished 2-3-4 and won the team contest 24-35. Skyhawks senior Taylor Smiley anticipated running with senior Perrin Considine, but Considine pulled out 10 minutes before the gun fired with pain in the arch of her foot.

That forced junior Chelsey Gehrts into the role of Smiley's running partner and she came through with a determined effort.

'Today was a day for everyone to run with their hearts,' Smiley said. 'We needed to keep our girls up front.'

Smiley and Gehrts ran together in second and third most of the race until Smiley took off with 600 yards left to finish as the runner-up in 20:36.03. Gehrts was third in 20:46.13.

'Taylor approached me before the race and said 'You're coming with me',' Gehrts said. 'I was like, 'Uh, O.K….'. She helped me the whole entire way. She was my inspiration.'

Southridge senior Breanne Whitlock made her move past a pack of five runners midway through the race to take fourth in 21:17.65. Sophomores Shannon Lane (22:35.75) and Brooke Snow (22:37.51) and junior Jenny Smith (22:38.89) finished close together in seventh, eighth and ninth to clinch the team victory for the Skyhawks, who evened their league record to 2-2.

'Our focus today was mainly on placement and competing as a team, and not our times,' Smiley said.

Sophomore Raquel Lemire (21:46.75) and senior Rebecca Bumpas (21:47.96) finished fifth and sixth, respectively, for the Warriors, who dropped to 0-4 in league meets.

'Even though the girls got beat, I thought they ran well as a team, especially Raquel and Rebecca,' Aloha coach Tim Tank said. 'They hung in there, but in the end, Southridge was too much for us.'