Forest Grove cross country team's annual fundraiser draws more than 130 entrants
This years Viking Vengeance Twilight Run/Walk was successful for at least two reasons.
First, the annual road race, staged last Thursday on the streets of Forest Grove, drew more than 130 participants for its 5- and 10-kilometer races. Second, the competition offered a glimpse of Vikings distance star Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinskis fitness and health.
The Viking Vengeance is a fundraiser for both the Forest Grove High School cross country program and the Forest Grove Youth Running Club for kids in grades five through eight. The event helps provide a stipend for an assistant coach for the high school program, as well as funds for travel and equipment. Both the boys and the girls teams are the two-time reigning Pacific Conference champions.
This years sixth annual edition of the race took participants through a good chunk of south Forest Grove, including the Clark District, along Highway 47, and on the B Street Trail. The 10K distance was a new offering, and the event included a short kids race for young runners.
In the 5K, Lizier-Zmudzinski beat all comers back to the finish line at the Forest Grove School District offices at 18th Avenue and Main Street, where the races had also started. The rising senior cruised to victory in 16 minutes, 3 seconds. Teammate Seth Berdahl, showing that he may also be a force to be reckoned with come fall, was not far behind in 16:16. Former Forest Grove cross country runner and two-time Vengeance overall winner Eric Weinbender was third in 17:05.
Last year, Lizier-Zmudzinski won the Class 6A 1,500-meter title on the track as just a sophomore, setting a state sophomore class record in the process. Since then, the Forest Grove standout has endured a progression of injuries that forced him to miss all of his junior cross country season and much of the track campaign this spring.
But Lizier-Zmudzinski has been back to training for a number of weeks now, and his preparations for his senior year have been going well.
Just 12 years old, Hannah Aguirre, of Forest Grove, was the first female finisher and eighth overall in 21:20. Beavertons Madeline Cusick, 15, took second in 21:46. Abigail Aguirre, Hannahs older sister, was third in 23:06. Willie Collins, of Cornelius, was the first masters finisher in 21:47. Timed in 25:41, Forest Groves Angie Berdahl was the first masters woman.
This year was the first time that the event offered a separate 10K course. Chris Paterson, 24, covered the distance in 36:35, followed by Eric Shull, of Winchester, Tenn., in 38:26. Forest Grove resident Blake Timm took third in 42:58. Forest Grove residents occupied the top three spots on the womens side. Kimberly Heesacker, 15, was the first female finisher in 43:55. Recent Pacific University graduate Chloe Hallyburton took second in 45:23, followed by Eleanor Schnorr, 14, in 49:39.
Finishing in 43:01, Mike McMaster was the first masters finisher and fourth overall, while Hillsboros Kristen Witherspoon was the first female masters runner in 50:01.
For complete results of both races, go to hubertiming.com.