Vikings welcome some new members to a team that returns several state qualifiers
Talent. Breadth. Youth.
The Forest Grove track and field teams offer all of this and more in 2014, which means this spring could be an exciting one for the Vikings.
More than 120 kids have turned out including 43 freshmen, who should provide an infusion of youthful enthusiasm into the program. Forest Grove also returns a number of solid veterans capable of scoring points at the Pacific Conference district meet, scheduled this year for May 15-16 in Newberg. Last year the boys took sixth at the league clash, while the girls were eighth.
Very well. Real pleased, was coach Scott McCahons assessment after a couple of weeks of practice. The kids are really working hard.
And now they get to put that work into action, starting today, when the Vikings host Hood River Valley, Century and future conference rival South Salem in the Forest Grove Icebreaker.
As for his boys team, McCahon noted that the Vikings lack a high-end sprinter, but, he said, from 400 on up, were pretty tough.
Sophomore Ryan Gochenour returns after finishing fifth in the 400 meters at the 2013 district meet. Fellow sprinters Ricky Torres and Christian Guerra also are back for their junior seasons on the oval after being varsity mainstays last season.
Not surprisingly, the distances should be a team strong suit again this season. Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, the 2012 Class 6A 1,500-meter state champion, returns for his senior year after finishing third in the Class 6A cross-country state meet last fall. He battled injury during an abbreviated junior campaign last spring, but still managed to set the school record in the 3,000 meters.
Seth Berdahl and Murimi Nyamu, fifth and sixth in the district 3,000 a year ago, also are long-distance threats.
In the hurdles, three-sport athlete Zac Collins has turned out for his senior season. He took third in the 300 hurdles at last springs district meet. Junior Jakob Orlowsky provides depth in the hurdles, and Pavel Lopez Haas should contribute in the pole vault.
In the throws, Tate de Sully is another senior who returns after scoring points at the district meet. He finished fifth in the shot put and eighth in the discus. Jon Cirlincione will play a similar role as the go-to guy in the jumps. He competed in all three jumping events at districts last year with a best of fourth place in the long jump.
McCahon pointed out newcomer Joel Fletcher as a potential contributor in the jumps and pole vault.
The girls team is led by Shannon Hammond and Alyssa Villalobos, who made up Forest Groves state-qualifying contingent last spring.
After earning the second and final Pacific Conference slot to state in the high jump last year on a tiebreak, Hammond made good on her first trip to Eugene with a seventh-place finish.
For her senior project, Hammond has organized for todays meet to serve as a Unified Sports event, in which participants both with and without developmental disabilities compete alongside each other. McCahon said he believed it will be the first competition of its kind in the state.
Villalobos snuck into the 2013 state meet, where she finished 14th, as a wild card in the long jump. The athletic sophomore is also a threat in the high hurdles and sprints. Throwers Amber Harper, Nina Flores Pana and Alyssa Boyd also return on the field events side.
On the track, Ashton Carow and Jessica Bickford will lead the sprint corps, and Corinne Reed, who took seventh place in the 300 hurdles at the district meet a year ago, is back for her senior season after adding some strength by running cross-country for the first time in the fall.
Similar to the boys team, the girls distance runners should provide some consistent firepower. Rubi Vergara-Grindell and Emilia Anderson are out after going 2-4 in the district cross-country meet a few months ago. A junior, Vergara-Grindell is welcomed back into the track fold after spending last spring living overseas with her family.
The Lady Vikings also offer some new faces to watch, including Ilean Franco (sprints) and Maylene Kasl (hurdles).
Weve got some young talent, especially in the skill events, McCahon said.
Forest Grove will host three varsity meets this season, and they all come early in the year. After spring break, the Vikings welcome Tualatin on April 2, and Senior Day will be on April 16 in a dual against Hillsboro.
That means now its time to get going.
Everybodys healthy right now, McCahon said. Well see what we have Wednesday.