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Jesuit, Sunset ready for Metro battle royale

The Metros best will likely be among the states best again in 2012


It's almost hard to believe.

It seems more than unlikely.

But it may be true — the Metro League may be better than ever in 2012.

APOLLO LEADER - Sunset senior Karen Qu and her Apollo teammates are hoping to challenge the long dominance of Jesuit in Metro League girls cross country this year, but know that the Crusaders will be tough again.

While it's unclear if the Metro can produce another state champion — Jesuit was third last year after nine straight state crowns, and Sunset was fourth — the league is just flat tough as nails from top to bottom this year.

“Jesuit, with their depth, will prevail as usual,” predicted Beaverton coach Jim Crawford. “Sunset, if they can get Karen Qu healthy, should take the second spot, but if not, Lincoln will be nipping at them.”

“I would think that Jesuit and Sunset girls will battle for the district championship,” said Aloha coach Ken Martinez.

While those two teams received the most support from the league's other coaches, there's more talent — a lot more — throughout the Metro League.

"Jesuit and Sunset will battle it out for the top spot, (but) Aloha and Lincoln will be strong” too, said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen.

Following are previews of the varsity boys teams from the six Beaverton-area Metro League schools.

ALOHA

ALOHA — Depth, experience and talent — it looks like Aloha has the whole package in 2012.

Whether or not that will be enough to earn a state meet berth in 2012, however, remains to be seen.

Regardless, the Warriors bring back five experienced runners from last year's third-place Metro finisher and think they have what it takes to battle it out in the league.

“The girls have been competitive in the last few years and we should continue that trend,” said Aloha coach Ken Martinez.

The Warriors will be led in 2012 by the senior duo of Desyre Blackburn and Amanda Stowe. Stowe was eighth at district last year and 33rd at state, while Blackburn — also a former individual state qualifier — placed 15th.

“We have two runners (Amanda Stowe and Desyre Blackburn) who have both competed as individuals at the state meet and they help make our practices competitive,” Martinez said.

Other experienced returners in the varsity lineup will be sophomore Alexa Bailey (24th at district), senior Kathleen Neblett (34th) and junior Allison Martinez (43rd). New to the varsity are junior Annalise Hodges and junior Jemimah Cordes.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — Beaverton knows there's work to be done in 2012.

The Beavers also know just how steep the hill is in the Metro League, what with the likes of Jesuit, Sunset, Lincoln and Aloha on hand.

But there's talent at Beaverton and experience too, and the Beavers hope to use both to cause some trouble of their own.

The key is in “increasing their endurance and stamina to compete over the 5,000 meters and be competitive with the rest of the league,” said Beaverton coach Jim Crawford.

This year's crew will be led by sophomore Erin Gregoire and fellow varsity returners Corinne Murray, Anisha Malynur and Belle Ottinger. As a freshman, Gregoire raced to fourth in the district meet, then came on strong at state to finish 12th.

Now “she hopes to improve upon last year's performances,” Crawford said.

Murray, a senior, is back after finishing 28th at district. Malynur, a sophomore, was 45th in 2011, while Ottinger — now a junior — was 47th in '11 district meet. The rest of the lineup will include senior Jessie Hansen, freshman

Emma Bowder and seniors Meghan McGarry Lauren Swett.

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — The Jesuit girls cross country team did some amazing things last year.

Among them, winning its 36th straight Metro League dual meet and 10th consecutive league title.

But it's what was left undone that will likely motivate the Crusaders this year, a short list headed by the team's third-place finish at state, a result that ended the team's nine-year-long stranglehold on the big-school crown.

“There's enough experience to know what we have,” said Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger. “We've got five girls back with state-meet experience.”

That quintet at the top of Jesuit's lineup is led by sophomore Dylan Hite (she was sixth in the 2011 district meet and 17th at state), senior Megan Mullaney (11th at district and 21st at state), senior Lindsay Sheaffer (13th/34th), junior Taylor Moscoe (17th/48th) and sophomore Zani Moore (20th/36th).

Sophomore Ellie Kallgren will also compete with that top pack, as will senior Katie Arndorfer, senior Molly Hagler, junior Colleen Sullivan, sophomore Jillian Rix and sophomore Hannah Harkness.

Hite “is much better, Mullaney has great speed (and) Kallgren will be a force to be reckoned with,” Rothenberger said.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — Some teams are just young teams, but some — like this year's incarnation of the Southridge Skyhawks — are both young and good.

And that, the Skyhawks hope, bodes well for their chances in the annual meat-grinder that is the Metro League girls cross country race.

“Just like the boys, only two girls return from last year's top seven,” said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen, whose team went 3-3 in league a year ago. But we've “got a good mix of runners in all grades. We will be a good team that is young.”

This year's team will be led by those two returners — junior Rachael Niesen and senior Jessica Li — along with senior Heather LaPlante. Niesen finished 18th at district last year, while Li took 46th in 2011.

“Rachael Niesen returns after finishing 18th at district as a sophomore,” Christiansen said. And “Heather LaPlante worked extremely hard this summer and I expect a strong season.”

This year's varsity lineup will also include sophomore Madison Tasker, junior Marissa Osswald, freshman Marissa Vaternick, freshman JJ Osborn, senior Emily Jones and junior Jessica Sparks.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — The Metro League's best will likely find themselves among the state's best by the end of 2012, and Sunset's girls will almost certainly be among the Metro's best.

The Apollos were there a year ago, taking second in the regular season and fourth at state — in both cases a single spot behind Jesuit — and are hoping for even more this year.

“The competition on the girls' side is going to be so fierce that the top teams will ultimately drive each other to be the best in the state,” said Sunset coach Dan Neeway.

The Apollos will look this year to the leadership of senior captain Karen Qu (she was fifth at district last year and 14th at state), junior Charlotte Corless (seventh at district, 29th at state) and senior captain Sarah Fahmy (9th/18th), as well as talented freshman Nicole Griffiths.

“Karen and Sarah are ideal team leaders in a long line of great team leaders,” Neeway said. “I imagine that those two, Charlotte and Nicole will be able to run with just about anyone in the league.”

The rest of the lineup will include junior Moya Doherty, junior Hailey Francis, junior Maika Thiringer, sophomore Tori Hensley, freshman Sharon Zhang and sophomore Maddie Leonard.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview has a shot.

In the toughest league in the state, in a good year in that league, the Wildcats believe they have a shot.

“This is our strongest team at Westview in four years,” said Westview coach Rebecca Martin. “I wasn't sure in the summer, but I'm very excited.”

Junior Sarah Medved returns to lead the team after placing 10th at the 2011 district meet, qualifying state and placing 19th there. Now, she's back and will likely be even better, joined at the top of the lineup by juniors Lilli Considine and Rebecca Scheer, and sophomore Sophia Zhou (32nd at district).

Considine, a rhythmic gymnast, has already shown great promise, as has Zhou, a top-notch club and high school swimmer.

“We're excited to have a full pack. Sarah needs that push,” Martin said. “Sarah had an incredible track season last year — she's such a natural talent — if she comes back healthy, she's good enough for a top-10 finish at state.”

Westview has more talent and experience back, too, including seniors Paisley (40th at district) and Mallory Hiefield, sophomores Aiyana Bankston and Lauren Gastineau, and senior Mikayla Hunter.