By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Ethan and Brennan Whalen, twin brothers, spent the summer competing in regional and national track meets in Bend, Los Angeles and Reno, Nev.

That experience is now paying off in their sophomore high school cross country season.

Running for McNary, the Whalen brothers have shattered their best times as freshmen.

Ethan, who entered the season with a PR of 18:37, finished the Meriwether National Cross Country Classic in Hillsboro in 17:50 on Sept. 21.

“I just stayed in shape and got better,” Ethan said. “I came back stronger than last year.”

Finishing just eight seconds behind Ethan was Brennan, whose freshman PR was 18:59.

“That was my goal for the season, said Brennan of breaking 18 minutes. “I’m still working hard. I’m making a new one.”

Both Brennan and Ethan, who started cross country as sixth graders at Whiteaker Middle School, credited the SOVAH Track Club, run by Jon Terrazas, for improving their mechanics.

“I feel like I’m getting less sore,” Brennan said. “Last year I felt like everything was hurting and this year I’m not hurting.”

Brennan and Ethan have also learned how to kick at the end of races.

“I never kicked in my races because I was too tired,” Brennan said. “If I hadn’t (kicked), I wouldn’t have gotten under 18 (minutes).”

The brothers also push each other.

“He starts out a little quicker than I do but by the first mile I can see him and I just try to keep with him,” Brennan said of Ethan. “If he starts slowing down I’ll obviously go faster but that hasn’t happened this season. The goal is to beat him but that’s going to be hard.”

Ethan backed up his 17:50 by finishing the Nike Portland XC in 17:55.

“Those are two guys that show up everyday to get better, whether their body is not feeling good or it’s their best day, they show up and push each other and push the other varsity guys,” McNary head coach David Holcomb said. “I think from two sophomores that’s really exciting.”

McNary senior David Allen was the second Celtic to cross the finish line at the Nike Portland XC, finishing in 18:03. Sophomores Andrew Goemaere and Gavin Gasperini were next in 18:28 and 18:30.

Francisco Orta finished in 18:33 and Brennan Whalen clocked in at 18:55. Caleb McCoy was right behind him in 19 minutes.

Sabella Alfaro led McNary’s girls, finishing with a PR of 22:43. Cielo Hermenejildo Chavez clocked in at 22:55 and Reyna Terrazas finished in 23:22.