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Rowen Suchoski leads Scappoose XC in final year; looks ahead to track season with twin Luke, who is out with broken foot.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Rowen Suchoski runs in a 5k at McCormick Park in September 2021.Scappoose senior Rowen Suchoski is approaching the end of the cross country season — and his high school running career.

Twins Rowen and Luke Suchoski have run side-by-side for years, sometimes recognized as the redheaded twins seen running around Scappoose. Luke broke his foot early in the season, leaving Rowen at the top of the Scappoose pack.

When health is not a factor, which of the twins is in the lead varies.

"There's typically one that will be slightly stronger than the other, but it's not always the same from cross country season to track season and from year to year," Scappoose cross country coach Kevin Pinkstaff explained.

"It just depends who's healthiest," Rowen Suchoski said, describing various injuries that the twins have dealt with. "But we try to keep ourselves on the same level and work together and pull each other up. We do all of our training together."PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Rowen Suchoski, right, races neck and neck with Parkrose's Marte Haley in a September 2021 meet.

Both Rowen Suchoski and Pinkstaff said Luke Suchoski was on track to have a better season than Rowen, before his injury.

But despite missing the running companions he's used to — Luke Suchoski and 2020 graduates Gage Ekstrom and Griffin Barron — Rowen Suchoski has had a strong season.

"Rowen has been not only our best performer but he's been in his best performances of his career so far," Pinkstaff said.

In two out of the first three meets of the season before a stress fracture took him out of the season, Luke Suchoski was Scappoose's fastest runner. Rowen Suchoski has taken that spot in all the races since.

At the Nike Portland XC meet on Sept. 25, Rowen Suchoski took first in the 5k division three race, setting his best personal record.

But Rowen Suchoski said he was accidentally placed in the division three race and could have done better with tougher competition, so he asked Pinkstaff to sign him up for the Hole in the Wall 5k in Washington.

Suchoski took 30th place in that race, but he beat his record at the Nike meet by 20 seconds, finishing at 15:57.

"I just knew I had to feel some pain in it to get a good time. So that's what I did," Suchoski said. "I feel like I can improve on that PR at districts and hopefully state."

"We haven't had too many runners get below 16 minutes in a 5k in our program. The number of athletes that have done that are pretty small, so it's a pretty elite performance," Pinkstaff said.

But to Suchoski, that record isn't exceptional for him.

"This is what I should be running for senior year — and hopefully faster than that," he said. "So I'm not surprised by it, but I'm hopefully ready to run faster."

Running is a family affair for the Suchoskis.COURTESY PHOTO: DENNIS OLSTEDT - Luke and Rowen Suchoski took second and first place in the mens 6k race held during the Scappoose Centennial to raise money for track improvements in memory of teammate Neil Hoffmann, who died in 2020.

"My dad is probably one of my biggest coaches," Rowen Suchoski said. "He's helped me a lot through all these years. Some days he gets me on my runs when I don't really want to. … He's probably the reason why I'm where I'm at today, because he's done a really good job of helping me grow and get to where I am.

"He's awesome. He does a lot of running himself, too, so he's sort of a nerd about it."

Rowen Suchoski said his dad didn't push him or Luke into running, but also coached their childhood soccer team.

"He didn't really care what we did, as long as we sort of did something with our time," Suchoski said.

It was a jog-a-thon at Grant Watts Elementary School that cemented a passion for running, he said.

The elder Suchoski "has a lot of experience that he'll bring to the guys on the side, talking about their form and race strategy kind of stuff. It's been really helpful," Pinkstaff said. "So the whole family has been really good for our team."

Now the oldest team members, both Luke and Rowen Suchoski have stepped up as leaders. On long runs, Pinkstaff said, they'll talk race strategy and give advice to other runners on the team.

"There's always a sense of family with cross country, and that grows every single year," Rowen Suchoski said.

"Cross country is not really a sport where a lot of runners feel like that's their identity, like everybody wants to be a football player, basketball player, you know, all the typical American professional sports," Pinkstaff said. "But Luke and Rowen both very strongly identify as runners and have shared that with their dad their whole lives, which is really cool to see."

Rowen Suchoski said his final Scappoose cross country season is "bittersweet," especially without his brother running alongside him. But the Suchoskis both run in the spring track and field season, and they hope to be able to finish strong — together.

"We're gonna do a lot of training over this off-season, hopefully, and get ready for track. (We) hope to set some records, run some fast personal records," Rowen Suchoski said.

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