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Inspiration fuels runner's victories(Aug 7 2008, 03:56 PM)
 

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Inspiration fuels runner's victories

Published by
Janelle Everetts   on Aug 7 2008, 03:56 PM

              Inspiration fuels runner's victories

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December 14, 2007

Janelle Everetts can pinpoint the moment it clicked, the exact second she realized that she wanted to do something as a runner that would make other people take notice.

During the McKay-South Salem dual track and field meet this year, she found herself in a familiar position, looking at the back of Katie Thede in the 800 meters.

"I was just running and I was in the back stretch and I was like, 'You know what, you know what, this feels good, but wait, I can actually beat her,' " Everetts said. "I can stay back and let her beat me or I can actually try hard."

The breakthrough was a welcome relief to McKay coach Dan Kaplan, who had been working to release the potential that he saw in Janelle since her freshman year.

"From that day on she was a totally different runner," Kaplan said. "I thought maybe that confidence was missing, that she thought she couldn't follow a race plan.

"It was a huge relief. She had a look on her face like 'Now I see what you mean,' " he said. "That carried across into this year."

This cross country season Everetts finished fifth at the Class 6A state meet. The finish was the highest for a Salem girl since 2000, earning her Statesman Journal girls athlete of the year.

Everetts began running as a sprinter in middle school, but her coaches quickly saw the talent to be a distance runner.

"I really didn't want to because I was a sprinter," Everetts said. "So my mom and dad said you have to run practices but you don't have to run races. Then it was just one race. They kept telling me that every time."

But the sport grew on her, in part because of her twin, Megan Everetts, a McKay teammate.

"After I got into it, I realized it was the one thing I was better than Megan in," Janelle said. "I know that sounds really bad."

For the untrained observer, it can be hard to separate the two. Both girls talk fast, run fast and have enough energy to power the entire McKay team.

"The thing that always stands out is how much energy and passion they have and that's contagious," Kaplan said. "Their work ethic when they're in that groove is beyond anyone."

Janelle and Megan provided a solid base for the Scots, finishing third and fourth at the Central Valley Conference district meet this season.

Their sophomore year, Megan finished seventh at the Valley League district meet, taking the final spot for the state meet ahead of Janelle.

"It was bittersweet," Megan said. "We're upset for ourselves but happy for the other."

That experience has pushed Janelle ever since. At first, the disappointment from the race and a broken foot later in the year kept her from running well.

"It was mainly because I was psyching myself out," Janelle said.

Kaplan, a self-confessed over analyzer, was frustrated that he couldn't get Janelle to run the race plans he drew up.

"The first year and a half I worked with them they were very talented runners but they couldn't follow directions," Kaplan said. "Piecing that overall philosophy together didn't click."

But after the South Salem race, Janelle went on to win the 800-meters at the CVC district meet, fueling her belief that she did belong with the top runners in the state, which she proved during cross country.

Janelle beat her best time at the state meet by nearly two minutes, earning a trip to Border Clash, a meet featuring the top finishers from the Oregon and Washington state meets.

"I get goose bumps thinking about it," Janelle said. "I just wanted to do something I could look back on. Having everyone, my family, my dad and my mom and my sister and my coach -- to make all those people proud felt amazing. I loved the fact that something I can do like running can make all those people proud including myself, which was a bonus."

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