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Vikings earn invite to Jim Danner meet

cross country -- Forest Grove makes its first appearance at the prestigious Nike running event

The strongest cross country team in Forest Grove history earned its first-ever invitation to Nike's prestigious Jim Danner Invitational last weekend, and the Vikings made it count.

The Jim Danner meet, now in its 27th year and run at Blue Lake Park in Gresham, featured over 100 of the top cross country teams in the nation. It is widely regarded as one of the premier events in the country.

Forest Grove looked sharp in its first appearance, with the boys taking sixth place in Division 1, which is limited to squads that are Top 15 in their state. The Forest Grove girls, meanwhile, took fourth place in Division 3.

'We are running so well right now,' said Forest Grove coach Sue Fleskes. 'Our sights are on the district meet, which is two and a half weeks away. And, of course, our ultimate goal is to qualify a team for the state meet in Eugene.'

The Viking boys finished with 203 points, just one point behind fifth-place Mountlake Terrace (Wash.), and they were the top finishing Oregon team in Division 1. The upper division, tabbed 'Northwest Championship,' was reserved only for schools with a Top 10 regional ranking. That race was won by Joel E. Ferris (Wash.) High School.

Josh Seitz led the way for the Forest Grove boys, finishing 15th in the Division 1 race with a time of 16:32.1. Nick Wallace (16:45.5) and Justin Marble (16:45.8) finished back-to-back, taking 25th and 26th place, respectively. Chris Paterson in 66th (17:16.0) and Dusty Klein (17:23.3) in 80th rounded out the Vikings' team score.

On the girls' side, Danielle Jackson finished 13th in the Division 3 race with a time of 20:44.6. Sarah Amina claimed 25th (21:21.8), and she was followed closely by Laura Matzke in 38th (21:46.2), Sarah Howe in 39th (21:46.9) and Aubrey Peters in 46th (22:17.7).