Forest Grove sweeps the boys and girls team titles at the district cross country meet for the second year in a row

Forest Grove’s cross country team came into the 2012 season with expectations through the roof. In 2011, both the boys and girls teams won Pacific Conference district titles. Nothing less than another sweep was going to be acceptable for the Vikings this season.

With the self-imposed pressure mounting on them last Thursday, the Vikings went to Clackamas Community College and did exactly what they had set out to do.

The girls claimed the district title with 48 points, five points less than Newberg, which finished second. The Forest Grove boys won district with 47 points, 12 points less than second-place Tualatin.

Senior Elena Torry-Schrag led the Lady Vikings with a fifth-place finish in 20 minutes, 42 seconds.

“I’ve been struggling to get my time down all season,” Torry-Schrag said. “I just ran and I got the place that I needed to get for my team, and that’s really all that matters today.”

Rubi Vergara-Grindell came into the race battling a hip injury that had kept her out of competition for a few weeks, but the sophomore toughed it out and finished in sixth place with a time of 20:49.

“I wasn’t running for a couple of weeks,” Vergara-Grindell said. “I feel like I ran very well with that. But, it wasn’t my best race.”

Torry-Schrag didn’t allow her teammate to be too self-deprecating.

“She ran great for her first race back,” Torry-Schrag interjected.

Rounding out the Forest Grove girls, Kimberly Heesacker finished in 11th place with a time of 21:22, Emilia Anderson finished 12th (21:26), Julia Khoury finished 14th (21:31), Esther Harris finished 33rd (23:12) and Jessica Steigerwald finished 38th (23:37).

Forest Grove coach Sue Fleskes was ecstatic about how the Lady Viks managed their race.

“They ran exactly according to our race plan,” Fleskes said. “They did exactly what they needed to do. They passed people that they needed to pass when they needed to pass them and finished strong down the chute.”

On the boys side, senior Judd Parson led the Viks with a third-place finish in a time of 17:06.

by: CHASE ALLGOOD - Forest Grove senior Seth Berdahl pushes for the finish line durin the Pacifc Conference cross country meet at Clackamas Community College. “It was just good training,” Parson said.

Sophomore Seth Berdahl was close behind, taking fourth place with a time of 17:11.

“I came in running fifth (in the conference) and I got fourth, so it was good,” Berdahl said. “Summer base training helped out a lot. And I just went out there with everything.”

Connor Pitt took 10th place with a time of 17:27. Michael Garcia finished 12th in 17:36.

Garcia was happy with his race, but says that he could have run better.

“I ran pretty well,” he said. “Not as good as I thought, though. I just died. My legs didn’t feel up to where I thought they would be.”

Rounding out the Forest Grove boys, Bryan Cruz took 18th place with a time of 17:53, Aaron Orr was 29th (18:09) and Ian Dehner was 45th (18:37).

Fleskes was very happy with the way the boys used each other to bring home the district title.

“They pack ran and then Judd and Seth broke away a little bit from Michael,” Fleskes said. “That was part of their goal. They implemented their goals perfectly.

“We knew it wasn’t a fast course based on the turns and the terrain. They had other goals besides fast times. They wanted to win it all.”

Making the day even more special for the Vikings was the fact that both the boys and girls junior varsity teams also won district titles.

“For the JVs to win on both the boys and girls side is such a delight,” Fleskes said. “They’re our future. It means an awful lot. It shows how deep the dedication is on the team.”

Now the Forest Grove varsity runners will turn their attention toward the state championship meet in Eugene this Saturday.

“We’re going to do really well this year,” Torry-Schrag said. “Last year we got eighth in state, but we had a much bigger gap between our runners. Our three, four and five runners are all super close this year, so that should help with scoring.”

Says Garcia about the boys team: “Our goal is top ten. We can do that. If we keep on running like I know we can, then we’ll get there.”

Berdahl says that for the boys to accomplish that goal it will have to be a team effort.

“Our fifth and fourth guys need to race fast,” he said.

Fleskes’ strategy for her team is to have them “double peak” so that they could take home the district title and then be ready for the state meet.

Trying to have athletes run their best for two consecutive weeks can be difficult, but Fleskes is confident that the Vikings will leave everything they have on the state course.

“We just always try to be our best,” Fleskes said. “We’re not finished yet. This group really wants to go down to Eugene and run their very, very best. That’s the goal for them.

“In terms of place, I would never say. But they certainly want to go down and give forth the same effort that they did to win the district championship. That’s all you can ask of a kid — to give their absolute best.”

In past years, the Vikings have gone to Eugene for the state meet on Friday. They would take the day before the Saturday race easy, doing team building activities like bowling.

This year, though, the Vikings will not go down until Saturday morning.

“We decided that we’re going to go down Saturday morning, eat breakfast together on the way down, take care of business, turn around and come back,” Fleskes said. “They mean business. This group really means business. They’re taking it seriously.”

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