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Viking harriers run well at invite

Forest Grove runners go out strong and set 15 personal records at the New Balance invitational

Forest Grove's cross country team got an early preview of their Pacific Conference competition and the site of this year's district meet, running in the New Balance Festival of Champions on Saturday at Clackamas Community College.

The Viking boys looked like the team to beat, finishing fourth overall behind Summit and two Washington schools. That performance landed Forest Grove well ahead of conference mates Tigard (10th), Tualatin (11th), McMinnville (12th), Newberg (15th) and Glencoe (17th).

'(It was) a great showing for the entire varsity boys team and a chance to see how we size up against the other conference teams at this stage of the season,' said Forest Grove head coach Sue Fleskes.

The New Balance meet's unique format pits the No. 1 and 2 runners from each team against each other in one flight, followed by a flight for each team's No. 3 and 4, a flight for No. 5 and 6, and one for Nos. 7-12.

Forest Grove's top individual performance came from senior Tyler Shipley, who ran a lifetime-best time of 16 minutes, 6 seconds on the 5K course at Clackamas CC, shaving over a minute off his previous best and finishing 11th in the event's top flight. Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski was equally impressive, running a time of 16:07 in his first-ever 5K race to break the school's sophomore record of 16:49, set by Breck Harris in 2001.

Other Forest Grove runners who set personal records included James McCahon (16:43), C.J. Johnson (17:32), Ian Dehner (17:35), Camden Kennedy (17:41), Seth Berdahl (17:52), Connor Pitt (17:58) and Marco Ramirez (18:26).

On the girls side, Forest Grove didn't place as a team, but the Lady Vikings' 192 points were better than any other Pacific Conference teams.

Elena Torry-Schrag and Emilia Anderson competed as Forest Grove's No. 1 and 2 runners, with Torry-Schrag finishing 29th in 20:53 and Anderson taking 35th in 21:19.

In the second flight, Olivia Masek-McIntosh shaved over a minute off her lifetime best by running 20:19, and freshman Ruby Vergara-Grindell ran a strong race to finish in 20:59.