The annual 5K and 10K road races raise money for Forest Grove cross-country

 - Mickey Fleskes (left) pushes grandson Dylan Jacobson in a stroller at last Thursday's Viking Vengeance, while Brady Jacobson (36), Sophia McQueen and Tanner McQueen (64) walk along with Mark McQueen (far right).Some familiar suspects were at the front of the pack last Thursday at the Viking Vengeance road race.

In fact, three of the four men’s and women’s winners from 2013 repeated as champions at the seventh annual running event, staged on a warm midsummer evening in Forest Grove. Those repeat winners were recent Forest Grove graduate Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski in the 5-kilometer race and Chris Paterson and Kimberly Heesacker in the 10K race. In all, 93 participants combined to finish the two events.

The Viking Vengeance courses were based at the Forest Grove school district office at 18th Avenue and Main Street, and took runners and walkers through the Old Town area of Forest Grove and along the B Street Trail.

The event serves as a fundraiser for the Forest Grove cross-country program, generating funds for everything from a stipend for an assistant coach to funding for the Forest Grove Running Club for runners in upper elementary and middle school grades, and even transportation to off-campus practices for the high school team.

The cross-country program is one of the most successful at the high school. Last fall was a banner season for the Vikings. The boys repeated as Pacific Conference champions at the district meet while the girls were second, and both teams finished seventh in the Class 6A state meet, matching or surpassing previous program-best results.

One of those stars from last fall, Lizier-Zmudzinski finished atop a field of 73 runners on Thursday, turning in a quick time of 15 minutes, 45 seconds, a mark that was 18 seconds faster than his winning time in 2013. Lizier-Zmudzinski was a finalist in the men’s 1,500 meters at last month’s U.S. junior national championships (age 19 and younger), and later this month he departs for Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where he will run cross-country and track for the Hoyas.

David Roza, of Hagerstown, Md., finished second in 16:15, while Forest Grove’s Archer Morgan was third, another 11 seconds back. Roza recently completed an internship at the News-Times and runs for NCAA Division III school Haverford College in Pennsylvannia, while Morgan will be a senior at Forest Grove High School this coming school year.

On the women’s side, 12-year-old Hillsboro resident Elizabeth Rinck was the first female finisher and 12th overall in 20:07. Chloe Hallyburton, 23 and of Hillsboro, was second in 22:52, and Forest Grove’s Vanessa Stephens, 45, took third place in 23:04.

Stephens was the first female masters finisher (40 and older), while Forest Grove resident Adam Norman, 44, claimed top honors for masters men (19:05).

Paterson and Heesacker both cruised to their victories in the 10K, which was contested for a second consecutive year, and led Forest Grove residents to sweeps of the top three spots. Paterson came home in 34:17 to defeat Jon Schnorr, 46, by 4:19. Daniel Litwora was fourth overall and third among men in 40:34. The 25-year-old Paterson was far faster in winning than he was a year ago, when he posted a time of 36:35.

Showing that she is in great shape heading into her senior cross-country season with the Vikings, Heesacker, 17, was third overall and just 19 seconds behind Schnorr in 38:55, obliterating her winning mark of 43:55 from last year. Elisa Litwora, 33, took second in 40:11, and Ellie Schnorr, 15, was third in 48:11.

Jon Schnorr was the first male masters finisher, while Forest Grove’s Melanie Stignatti, 42, was the fastest masters woman in 49:56.

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