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Forest Grove track teams split GVC dual meet

Vikings get several strong performances against Sprague

These two teams were about as evenly matched as it gets.

Last Wednesday, the Forest Grove track and field teams split a Greater Valley Conference dual meet with Sprague. The host Vikings won the boys’ side of the meet, 77-67, while the Olympian girls edged Forest Grove by the slimmest of margins, 73-71.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Forest Grove junior Ilean Franco sprints to victory in the girls 100 meters during last Wednesday's Greater Valley Conference track and field meet against Sprague.

With the meet being so competitive, the Vikings posted a number of quality performances. Ilean Franco, in particular, made a solid showing on the girls’ side, winning three events.

On a cool day that produced a downpour late in the meet, the junior sprinter won the 100 meters in 13.64 seconds. She doubled up later in the day to edge out Sprague’s Emily Kraschel in the final few steps of the 200 — 28.48 to 28.58. And she capped her meet with a leg on the winning 1,600 relay team (4:29.85), which included Dominque Duncan, Britney Perdew and Lucia Mendoza.

“Today’s been actually a really good day even though it’s been really bad weather,” Franco said.

For the boys team, Ben Pearson showed that he continues to recover from a hamstring injury that limited him earlier in the season. The senior cleared 5 feet, 10 inches to win the high jump, and he also made his season debuts in the sprints, finishing fourth in the junior varsity 100 in 12.24 and then taking third place in the varsity 200 in 24.46.

“I’ve been really pushing to get 6 feet lately, and I just haven’t been able to get quite there,” Pearson noted about the high jump. “I keep getting super-duper close and it’s kind of frustrating too. But whatever, you keep working.”

All of that had him itching to get back into his specialty, the 110 hurdles. Pearson finished sixth in that event at the Class 6A state meet last year. But his injured hamstring is on his lead leg, so the coaching staff has been bringing him along slowly.

“I’ve really, really, really been wanting to hurdle,” Pearson said. “Now that we’re midseason, and I haven’t run one race yet, I don’t expect myself to come out and be just as good as I was in my last race at state (in 2015). They want me to do my first race actually this Saturday, which is Wilsonville, and that’s kind of a big race to go into as my very first one of the year.

“That’s why I really wanted to do it today, to get the nerves out from the beginning.”

Top girls performers against Sprague included Hannah Berdahl (800, first, 2:32.74; 3,000, second, 11:55.20), Ellie Khoury (1,500, first, 5:12.38) and Sophie Davis (100 hurdles, first, 18.85). Duncan ran a personal best in the 400 (1:04.76), finishing second to Sprague’s Alexa Smith (1:04.67) in a tightly contested race.

Top boys performers last Wednesday included Garrett Stewart (400, first, 53.92), Hyrum Hansen (800, first, 2:09.55), David Thacker (1,500, first, 4:46.51; 3,000, second, 10:27.27), Riley Stewart (3,000, first, 9:55.27), Joseph Duncan (110 hurdles, first, 18.10), Joel Fletcher (pole vault, first, 11-6) and Jackson Maybee-Davis (long jump, first, 19-10½).

Perhaps Pearson should not have worried so much about his hurdles debut, which did come Saturday at the Wilsonville Invitational. It certainly was worth the wait, as the senior blasted to a time of 15.15 to win the 110 hurdles. That clocking was just 0.15 off of his PR, which he ran last year’s state final. It also led the league by about a half-second and was seventh-quickest overall in the state entering the week.

The Vikings’ distance stars put in simmering performances in Wilsonville.

Matt Stanich smashed his personal best to win the boys 800. His time of 1:56.85 — a personal best by nearly a second — entered this week as the sixth fastest in Class 6A and ninth quickest regardless of classification. Max Norman also was a winner, taking the 3,000 in 9:02.82, a PR by almost seven seconds.

Teammate Murimi Nyamu dipped under four minutes for the first time in a fast 1,500, where four of the top seven times in the state this spring were set. Nyumu finished in 3:59.44, the fifth-fastest time statewide. League rival Ahmed Muhumed of West Salem set the state-leading time with a 3:56.41, followed by runner-up Roman Ollar of West Linn (3:59.17, third-fastest). Ollar’s twin brother, Grayson, was fourth in 4:00.33 (seventh-fastest).

Those four boys helped Forest Grove finish fourth among nearly two dozen teams at the meet. West Salem won with 93 points, followed by host Wilsonville (88½), Marist (84) and the Vikings (52).

Other Forest Grove scorers were Bobby Taylor (discus, second, 133-2), Fletcher (pole vault, third, 11-6) and Zachary Mossbarger (pole vault, sixth, 10-6).

West Salem racked up 154 points on the girls’ side to sweep the team titles. The Vikings scored nine points to tie for 19th.

Hannah Aguirre finished fourth in the 3,000 in her high school debut at the distance. Her time of 11:03.96 entered this week ranked fifth in the GVC. And Berdahl blasted past the 800 PR she set three days earlier, running 2:25.95 for fifth place.

Today, the Vikings travel to McMinnville for a GVC dual and they head to the Centennial Invitational in Gresham on Saturday.