The first stone in what’s certain to be a hale and hearty three week clash between Metro titans was cast and connected by the Aloha boys’ cross country team at the Jesuit’s ticker.

Driven on by1 great individual performances across the top 10 including, senior Devin Sellers taking first overall, the Warriors took down Jesuit, 26-29, at Aloha High School last Wednesday, Oct. 17. For the six Aloha seniors running their final home race, it was a great way to end the regular season.

“We knew we wanted it really bad,” said Sellers. “The past two years we’ve been racing with Jesuit, and today. It was our turn, our course, and we were ready.”

“It was such a crazy race,” continued Sellers. “Some of us stepped up big, and that’s what we need. We’re trying to teach these younger guys that when times get tough, you have to step up to the plate. You can’t dwell on any past races. You just have to move forward and find the next jersey in front of you.”

But, each Warrior was quick to point out there are bigger and better goals to chase, beginning with the Metro League Championship this week at Howard Terpenning Recreation Center.

Beating Jesuit was of immense importance, of course. Sellers (15:53), Glapougbae Garmondeh (16:06, third place), Brent Marsonette (16:30, sixth place), Joel Kramer (16:32, seventh place), and sophomore Luis Torres (16:35, 9th place) finished within the top 10. Seniors Daniel Rodriguez and Glapoujay Garmondeh, 14th and 15th places, were big in getting past the Crusaders as well.

Beating the Crusaders next week, however, with a team district championship at stake would be especially gratifying.

Can lightning strike twice in two weeks? The Warriors think so.

“We’ve been working all season for a Metro League championship, and this is just another step,” said Glapougbae Garmondeh. “We came out here and ran our race, and if we can do this at districts, I think we can win the league.”

After the first mile, Aloha sought out Jesuit’s top five runners and matched up against them according to their respective times. Sellers tried to stay ahead of Sahil Doshi, Garmondeh stayed ahead of Jesuit’s Sam Remington, while Aloha seniors Brent Marsonette and Joel Kramer kept the pressure on Crusader freshman Logan Phillips.

“We look at it as everyone has a job,” said Sellers. “No matter what we are in the race, if we’re first or fifth, we’re looking for their guy. We’re finding their guy, and we’re getting in front of their guy. That was our goal, find your guy and get in front of the next one.”

Doshi (second place), Remington (fourth), Phillips (fifth), Max Hite (eighth), and Spencer Grant (10th) mirrored the amount of Warrior competitors in the top 10, but Aloha had a little more overall team TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit senior Sahil Doshi and Aloha senior Glapougbae Garmondeh took second and third place at the Warriors home meet.

Remington said Aloha likes to go out hard the first mile to try and gain the upper hand. Jesuit, the Crusader senior said, fell into the Warriors’ style of running, rather than run slower the first mile and wind down the pace each succeeding mile.

“We fell into their trap,” said Remington. “But, we’re definitely learning from it, and we’ll be better next week. I think it was a wake-up call for us. It might be what we needed after all, just going into districts to be prepared and see where our weaknesses are.”

Running their own race at their own pace is crucial to Jesuit staying atop the Metro League, Remington said. If a Warrior is right on their shoulder, the senior captain wants his team to put the blinders on and do their own thing.

“We have to stay to our own paces,” said Remington. “If they slow down, we just have to stay on pace or vice versa. We have to run our own splits.”

Jesuit lost a large group of seniors who finished second at state last season, but the bar hasn’t been lowered in any respect. The Crusaders have come a long way this year with fast underclassmen like Phillips and Hite stocking the top of the Metro standings and they’re far from content to let Aloha run away with their team trophy.

“We’re definitely still looking for that Metro League title,” said Remington. “We think we have a strong chance at getting it. Aloha’s a great team this year too, so we know it’s going to be a close race. In years’ past, we haven’t been used to it being this close in the Metro. It’s a little bit of a new experience in that sense but it’s definitely good and healthy competition.”

Sellers said there’s going to be “three times” as many competitors in the district race and even more watching and cheering from the sidelines.

Yet, the Warriors’ method and team mentality will not change. Sellers, Garmondeh, Marsonette, and Kramer are seniors who have been there, done that when it comes to competing in the wild atmosphere, which helps control the butterflies and brings a sense of calm to the rest of the team.

“Next week, there’s just more people in the race,” said Sellers. “We’re going to show them that it wasn’t just this week. We’re there because we want it so bad. We’re 100 percent confident in each other that we’ll perform to the best our abilities. We’ve been doing this since we were sophomores and we’re going to push each other to hopefully come out with a victory.”

“We have to look past this for next week,” added Glapougbae Garmondeh.

“Last year, we went 5-1, and at districts, we went off. We’re going to get back to work, and we’re going to take districts. It’s just another race for us, and we’re going to try and run our own race. If we do that, we’re going to win.”

Westview’s Nikhil Anand said he took advantage of the warm conditions and fast track to become the Wildcats’ top finisher at TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview sophomore Nikhil Anand was the Wildcats top finisher at Aloha, taking seventh overall.

The sophomore wanted to stay with Southridge’s Zach Cooper for most of the race, and once he could sense the Skyhawk was ripe for the taking, passed him over the final stretch. Toward the end of the race, Anand said he felt fresh, but almost too fresh.

“I had a lot left at the end, so I should’ve played that out harder and gone faster on other parts of the course,” said Anand. “I had way too much at the end. I think I need to have a better goal for my times in the first mile or two instead of running away faster in the third mile.”

The Wildcats’ took third overall with 86 points, thanks to a clump of finishers who closed right behind each other at the finish line. Senior Jake Schmerber (17:14), sophomore Zachary McNulty (17:24), senior Glen Anderson (17:39), senior Morgan Nichols (17:40), and junior Timothy Motsiff (17:52) completed the race in order, and rounded out the top 25 individual finishers. Anand, who said he wants to break 16 minutes at districts, hopes for similar team success.

“Our team’s ultimate goal is to go to state so we’re all going to have to run great races in order to do that,” said Anand. “You know Jesuit and Aloha are going to go out strong. But, that helps you because you have someone who can push you and get better times. By them being strong, it makes us stronger too.”

Cooper was Southridge’s first finisher, running in what we called “fantastic” weather. The Skyhawk junior took 17th overall (17:09), sophomore Nate Mann was 25th (18:08), senior Riley Temple was 28th (18:29), and sophomore Travis Leadbetter was 29th (18:43).

A solid 800-meter and 1,500 -meter for the Southridge track team, Cooper—a former marching band member— is trying cross country for the first time this year.

“It’s different than what I’m used to, but I’m enjoying it a lot,” said Cooper. “It’s a different type of racing style than track. This is a lot longer, and more stamina than it is speed.”

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