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Vikings have high hopes for the upcoming season despite the team's overall lack of varsity experience
by: John Schrag Forest Grove senior Griffin Bailey runs against Union’s Ryan Stanford during a meet on March 20.

Of the 144 athletes out for this year's Forest Grove track and field team, according to head coach Scott McCahon, about 100 of them are either freshmen or sophomores.

'We don't have a lot of returning kids, but we've got some good young kids,' McCahon said. 'They're going to be competitive. It's not like we're going to get clocked (in dual meets). This is the most competitive team I've ever had, and I'm pretty excited about the season.'

Forest Grove graduated two of its four state qualifiers from last year, but the Vikings return senior James McCahon, who took fifth in the 300-meter low hurdles at last year's Class 6A state meet,

and sophomore Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, who won a Pacific Conference championship in the 800 meters a year ago.

The Vikings should be typically deep in the distance events, where cross country crossovers like Tyler Shipley and Elena Torry-Schrag could contend for district titles in the 3,000 meters.

'Elena is coming off a good cross country season and she's our No. 1 girls distance runner right now,' McCahon said of Torry-Schrag, who could also run the 1,500 or 800 this year.

Equally versatile on the boys side, Lizier-Zmudzinski could run the 400, 800 or 1,500 this season after capturing a surprise district title in the 800 last year as a freshman.

'He's good at any length,' McCahon said.

Also returning to the fold is senior sprinter Griffin Bailey, who ran a lifetime best in the 100 meters at Forest Grove's first meet of the season, an icebreaker against Union (Wash.) on March 20.

James McCahon will be looking to earn a return trip to the state meet after his fifth-place finish in the low hurdles a year ago. McCahon, who also runs the 400 meters and 4x400 relay, will get a stiff challenge at the district meet from Newberg senior Jacob Petrie and Tigard senior Sean McGetrick.

'James is in the hunt for the hurdles, but the league is going to be tough this year,' coach McCahon said. 'If they all run like they can, all three of them should make qualifying times for state.'

Other returners include senior Harry Armstrong in the 110-meter high hurdles and senior Tim Hutchins in the shot put.

'Harry had some lung problems last year, but he's back this year and we're hoping for good things from him,' McCahon said. 'Timmy is a big kid, and when he gets the (shot put) technique figured out, boy, he's going to throw it a long way.'

Of the team's many underclassmen, McCahon predicts big things for sophomores Jon Cirlincione and Zac Collins, both competing in the long jump and triple jump. Junior Paul Schot is also jumping well early this season.

'We've got some sophomore athletes and some sprinters who will develop as the season goes on,' McCahon said. 'The big thing with having so many young kids, especially in the field events, is teaching them technique and getting them some confidence.

'It can be tough for younger kids in those events because they don't always have success right away. You have to keep them from getting discouraged.'

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