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Jesuit, Beaverton to battle for Metro supremacy

Beaverton's top three stand out, as does Jesuit's depth for 2011
by: Miles Vance AIMING HIGH — Jesuit senior David Leavy and the Crusaders are going after another Metro crown in ’11.

It's time to step on it for the Metro League's boys cross country teams.

The Metro, long one of the strongest boys leagues in the state, will live up to that reputation again in 2011, with perennial power Jesuit catching heat from Beaverton as the Crusaders chase a 14th straight league title.

'The Jesuit boys team is extremely strong this year and I predict that they will be battling Crater for the state team title,' said Beaverton coach Jim Crawford. 'Jesuit has a lot of depth.'

'On the boys side, Jesuit and Beaverton are both very strong teams,' said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen. 'Beaverton's top three are the most talented in the state.'

Indeed, if the Beavers can find some additional speed from their fourth and fifth runners, they may very well have what it takes to take down the mighty Crusaders.

'Their strength is at the front of the pack and ours is depth,' said Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger. 'With us, it's where does our pack start, and with (Beaverton) it's where does it end.'

In any case, there ought to be a ton of competition squished into the final three weeks of the regular season, with all league races taking place there for a second straight year.

'It's a tough league,' added Sunset coach Dan Neeway. 'It should be fun to watch on both sides.'

Following are previews of the varsity boys cross country teams at the six Beaverton-area high schools.

ALOHA

ALOHA - The time is now at Aloha.

The Warriors, winless in league action a year ago, feature four first-year cross country runners in their top seven for 2011, but still believe they are ready to compete.

'With such a young team, it is easy to think about next year, but we plan on competing this year,' said Aloha coach Ken Martinez. 'The boys' improvement over the summer has been one of the most pleasant coaching experiences in my career.'

This year's Aloha team is led by its two district returners, seniors Michael Seed (42nd at district in 2010) and Brennen Hewitt (46th), and those two runners are acting as leaders in more ways than one.

They 'are doing a great job encouraging and supporting a young team,' Martinez said.

Sophomore Jay Garmondeh also shows promise after a strong track season, and he'll be joined by sophomore Bae Garmondeh, sophomore Joel Kramer, sophomore Devin Sellers, and junior Cameron Atherton.

'Four of our top seven have never run cross country before this year (but we will) still be significantly better than last fall,' Martinez added.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON - Two is the magic number for Beaverton this year.

If the Beavers can just find two more runners to join the three at the head of the pack, they may even have a chance to be No. 1.

'Our boys team could do well if two others on the team step up,' said Beaverton coach Jim Crawford, whose team was second in league and fifth at state in 2010. 'We have a solid top three, but it takes five to put a team together.' step up,' said Beaverton coach Jim Crawford, whose team was second in league and fifth at state in 2010. 'We have a solid top three, but it takes five to put a team together.'

This year's top three includes junior captain Dan Oekerman (he was eighth at district and eighth at state), junior Kevin Kavanaugh (the former Metro champ was third at district and ninth at state last year) and senior Hussein Mohamed.

'Dan Oekerman and Kevin Kavanaugh placed eighth and ninth respectively at the state meet last year and Hussein Mohamad is running right up there with them this season,' Crawford said.

Hoping to join that trio are sophomore Drew Larabee, junior Jake Fenger, senior captain Erik Olson, and sophomores Zach Collins and Joe Hill.

'We also need to stay healthy and injury free,' Crawford warned. 'If we lose a member on our varsity squad, we would be devastated.'

JESUIT

BEAVERTON - The pack is back.

Jesuit's vaunted pack, which has led the team to an 86-meet winning streak that dates back to 1998, should be back in fine form in 2011, and should lead to even more success.

'There's only 15 to 20 seconds between the front and the back' of the pack, Jesuit coach Tom Rothenberger said. 'Depth is definitely the key this year.'

But it's not just quantity that makes the Crusaders go - there's quality too, exemplified by senior David Leavy (he was fifth at district and 14th at state last year) and junior Hunter McGuirk (13th at district and 38th at state).

Leavy 'has that experience and McGuirk will challenge him this year,' Rothenberger said. 'He was only six seconds back in our first time trial.'

The rest of the lineup is solid too, including senior Mark Petrusich, senior Ryan Stevens, senior David McCaslin, junior Brian McDavitt, junior Alex Joseph, sophomores Sam Rem-ington and Michael Godbout, and juniors Josh Sealand and Connor McWeeney.

Together, that group promises to give the rest of the Metro League a run for its money as the Crusaders chase their 15th straight Metro crown and its first state title since 2008.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON - If hard work counts for anything, then you better count Southridge 'in' as a competitor for top honors in the 2011 Metro League race.

The Skyhawks, coming off sixth-place finishes in both the 2010 dual-meet season and district meet, believe that their hard work in the offseason will pay big dividends in Metro action.

'The boys team will be competitive with the top teams in the league,' said Southridge coach Michael Christiansen. 'The key is staying healthy and having our seniors challenge themselves to rise to the next level.'

And Southridge has one of the league's best seniors on hand in Justin Rocereto. Rocereto finished 10th at district a year ago and is poised for even bigger and better things in '11, along with fellow seniors Ryan Jones, Austin Poulin and Nic Palladino.

'All four of these seniors have been working hard all summer and running on their own outside of practice,' Christiansen said.

Joining that group on the varsity roster will be seniors Sam Rosen, Forrest Welk, Jordan Drake and Sean Rooney, juniors Elliott Nelson and Alexander Castillo, and sophomores Jordan Hamada and Riley Temple.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL - There are probably more questions than answers this fall for the Sunset cross country team.

Senior Nathan Brown returns as a proven commodity after finishing 11th at district a year ago, but the Apollos know they'll need some newcomers to step up in 2011.

'We have a few boys who put in a lot of work this summer and their work should show,' said Sunset coach Dan Neeway. 'How well the rest of the team does this fall depends on how our younger boys step up. If we are to succeed as a team, we'll need some help from our underclassmen.'

That said, Brown is this year's team's undisputed leader.

Brown 'has put in a lot of work over the years,' Neeway said, also sharing credit with assistant coaches Samone Brockett and Amber Maheu. 'Most of our team is young and inexperienced and he leads by his example.'

The rest of this year's varsity lineup will include junior Colin Petitt, freshman Mark Sussman, senior Daniel Hahn, sophomore Grant Bingham, and seniors Chris Chu, Jacob Morello and Harvey Andersen.

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK - In more ways than one, Westview is starting fresh in 2011.

The Wildcats, after finishing in the middle of the Metro League pack in 2010, roll into 2011 with two new coaches and a lineup to match.

Westview welcomes co-coaches Julie Ray and Rebecca Martin into the mix this year, and while the Wildcats don't return any of their top five from last year's district meet, their coaches still believe the team can compete.

'The key for Westview in 2011 is to work together as a team,' Ray said. 'These seven individual boys are demonstrating great teamwork in practice. Now they need to bring it to the races. (If they do), the results could be very positive.'

This year's team will look to junior RJ Morgan and senior Sam Curl for leadership this season, Curl the lone varsity returner after placing 36th at district a year ago.

'RJ Morgan and Sam Curl are at the top of the boys roster' this year, Ray said. 'Both are talented runners and should fare well this season.'

The rest of this year's team will include senior Taran Hughes, junior Matt Kingzett, sophomore Jake Schmerber, sophomore Erik Hahn and junior Alec Smith.