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Forest Grove runners notch three individual victories at the Night Meet in Wilsonville

It was only one meet, but the Forest Grove boys and girls cross-country programs are looking good for 2013.

The Vikings kicked off the season with three runners posting victories and seven others recording top-five finishes last Thursday at the Night Meet in Wilsonville. Sue Fleskes’ crew got the chance to test itself in 3,000-meter races, one staged for each class and gender (freshman girls, junior boys, etc.), as well as novice harriers.

“The depth and how we did all the way down was really substantial,” Fleskes said. “It just was a really solid meet for us, a really solid overall meet for us.”

Most impressive was Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, who showed fine early-season form after having missed all of his junior cross-country season last fall and most of track season in the spring with injuries. Not only did he win the senior boys race and post the fastest overall time at the meet — 8 minutes, 58 seconds — but he also tied the course record, according to Fleskes.

The Vikings star defeated the runner-up, McMinnville’s Nick McDaniel, by six seconds. McDaniel is the reigning Pacific Conference champion, so the race gave Lizier-Zmudzinski an idea of how he stacks up against the league’s best.

“He raced well, he raced easy,” Fleskes said. “It was very comfortable for him.”

But the senior was not the only Forest Grove runner who emerged with a victory. Seth Berhdal took top honors in the junior boys race. His time of 9:26 was just five seconds and three spots better than Archer Morgan. Murimi Nyamu, who was fourth in the sophomore boys race, also finished in 9:26.

Rylan Kennedy and Pavel Lopez-Haas also posted top-five finishes in the freshman boys race. Kennedy was third in 11:03 and Lopez-Haas was fifth in 11:16.

On the girls side, Corinne Reed took the novice race in 12:32, just ahead of freshman teammate Elli Schnorr, who was second in 12:42. Reed, a senior, is in her first season of cross-country, and this past spring she was a finalist in the 300 hurdles at the Pacific Conference district meet.

“She’s a tough one, she’s actually fifth now on our varsity,” Fleskes said about Reed.

Another Viking, freshman Elissa Anderson, was fourth behind Reed and Schnorr in 13:05.

Though she did not win her race, Rubi Vergara-Grindell posted the top time by a Viking girl. She was fourth in the junior girls race in 11:27, while Kimberly Heesacker was 19th in 12:04. Julia Khoury and Emilia Anderson were 19th and 20th, respectively, in the senior girls race with times of 11:54 and 11:55.

Next up, the Vikings are scheduled to compete in the Ultimook Cross Country Invitational in Tillamook on Saturday. Fleskes said that meet is optional and not all members of the varsity will race this weekend, so the Night Meet determined the varsity spots for the Festival of Champions in Clackamas on Sept. 14.

Braves run in Night Meet

Banks also opened up its cross-country season last week at the Night Meet. In all, nine Braves took to the course in Wilsonville. Erik Stepken led the boys. His time of 11 minutes, 54 seconds was good for 114th place among sophomore boys. Jamie Borchers led the girls team, taking 55th in the sophomore girls race in 13:23. Like Forest Grove, Banks is scheduled to race at the Ultimook Cross Country Invitational in Tillamook on Saturday.

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