Practically the entire Metro League is pursuing Aloha’s Allison Martinez individually, and the Jesuit girls’ cross country team as a whole.

Neither would have it any other way.

At Aloha’s four-way regular season finale meet last Wednesday, Oct. 17, Martinez won her third straight Metro meet by running an 18:40 and the Crusaders took top team honors, 31-38.

Normally, Martinez is “really nervous” before the start of a competition. Being in front of her home crowd in the last race she’ll run at Aloha High, gave the senior a little extra juice that soothed the anxieties of having to fend off Jesuit.

“I was just really relaxed at the starting line,” said Martinez. “I just felt like going for it, and that’s what I did. My body just kind of took over and did the work for me. My dad’s the head coach (Ken Martinez), so my sister and I have been coming to meets here since we were babies. It’s strange to have it be our last one, but it was fun to do it one last time. It was just icing on the cake that it was a good day for us.”

Jesuit junior Dylan Hite (18:46) and sophomore Nicole McCullough (19:06) placed second and third, respectively to lead the Crusaders to a victory over Aloha. Healthy again, after being riddled with illness and injuries earlier in the season, Hite said Jesuit’s peaking at the right time going into the Metro League District meet this week. The Aloha four-way was both Hite and McCullough’s return to the course after being out with the flu and a solid way to ease back into the rigors of TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Jesuit junior Dylan Hite (18:46) took second at Alohas home meet last Wednesday and helped the Crusaders win the team standings.

“We really appreciate every time we do well, and we’re working really hard to compensate for all the injuries,” said McCullough. “It’s nice when it pays off. We’re really inspired right now, and that’s what we’re working on mostly, getting everybody pumped.”

“We’re working through it and our girls are coming back stronger than ever,” added Hite. “We have a really young team, so we’re trying to build up our younger girls to make them stronger and make up for some of the girls we don’t have. There’s a lot of potential, so we’re excited for districts. We think it’s going to be great.”

Jesuit wanted to run as a pack, and although the girls were split up towards the middle of the race the Crusaders competed in twos, running in tandem. Sophomore Katie Leavy (19:40) and junior Hannah Harkness (19:43) placed sixth and seventh. Sophomore Aimee Piercy (19:59) was 11th and freshman Grace Becker was 15th (20:12).

“Our goal, through all of this is to support each other,” said McCullough. “That’s what we’re trying to build up to, is always being with each other and relying on each other. That’s what we’re going for, and we’re getting better at it every week.”

Hite said she likes Jesuit’s chances at winning districts, although all the teams in the Metro are dangerous in their own rights. Sunset, Aloha, and Beaverton field teams that are accomplished at the top.

“There’s a lot of good talent, so it’ll be an interesting battle,” said Hite. “Everybody has a good, little pack.”

“Everyone is really excited and really inspired,” said McCullough. “It’s always intense. We do a lot of mental preparation to get in the zone. It’s the race where we feel like it’s our chance to lay it all out there. We try to treat it the same as any race, go in there with a positive attitude and see where it gets us.”

Running on the exact course they practice on nearly every day, gave the Warriors more confidence during the race. Traversing 185th Avenue facing Aloha High was the toughest part for Alyssa Foote who said that stretch “goes on forever uphill.”

Being familiar with the path, however, was convenient in placing second as a team. Foote (fifth place, 19:35), and Taylor Nickel (sixth place, 19:36) were followed by Jemimah Cordes (20:04). Alexa Bailey was 14th overall at 20:10. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Alohas Alyssa Foote (left), and Taylor Nickel (right) helped the Warriors place second at their home meet.

“I know this course really well, so I knew were to focus and where everyone was going to start to slack,” said Foote. “So, Taylor and I pushed it up together. It was fun.”

“I think it’s a fast course,” added Nickel. “There are tough parts like 185th and the gravel (over by the baseball field), but because of the track and the pavement, it’s pretty fast. I was really proud of how our team did. We’ve really been working together in practice, and that paid off in the race.”

Foote and Nickel are sophomores who have run together and posted similar times since their freshmen seasons. With Jesuit lurking behind them, Foote remembered back to an “85-95-85 percent effort” workout on the track to carry both her and Nickel to the last 100 meters.

But, instead of going 85 percent like the workout required, Foote kicked it into overdrive.

“I was like ‘I can’t go 85 (percent)’. I have to give it my all,” said Foote. “I wanted us to beat the two Jesuit girls (Harkness and Leavy) so I started going to 100 (percent).”

“It was good to have her push me,” said Nickel. “She kept me from not slacking off at the end.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior Sarah Medved was the Wildcats top finisher at Aloha last Wednesday and took fourth overall. Martinez said looking ahead to districts, she would love to go to state and bring her teammates along with her.

Sunset’s Charlotte Corless ran a blistering 17:52 on Oct. 9 at the Apollos’ four-way meet with Jesuit and has the top time going into the districts for the girls.

Anything can happen though in the district setting, when the spotlight’s on and the pressure’s overflowing.

“My goal is just to run with a free mind and have fun out there,” said Martinez. “It’ll be my last one. My goal is just to go out there and run like I’ve been running all season. It’ll be really interesting to see how it plays out because we have a really strong league and really good girls out. It’ll be exciting.”

Nickel and Foote don’t want observers to forget the Warrior girls as a team, either.

“We’ve been working up there and the past couple weeks we’ve really been working hard,” said Nickel.“All of our girls have been running hard in workouts and I think we have a good chance to try.”

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