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Forest Grove looks to defend titles at GVC district meet

The Viking boys and girls cross-country teams hope to qualify for the state meet


Today is the day for all the marbles.

The Forest Grove cross-country teams will find out today if their season will extend for one more week, as the Greater Valley Conference district meet is slated for this afternoon at Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem.

The varsity girls race is scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start, followed by the varsity boys at 5:15. The top three teams in both races will qualify for the Class 6A state meet, scheduled for Oct. 31 at Lane Community College in Eugene. Any runners on nonqualifying teams who finish in the top 10 also will advance.

Both Viking teams are the reigning GVC district meet champions, but they figure to get stiff challenges to defend those titles. On the boys’ side, three teams look to be good bets to advance to state. West Salem, which boasts one of the top runners in the Oregon high school ranks in Ahmed Muhumed, looks to be a slight favorite for the win, with Forest Grove and McMinnville not far behind.

Viking senior Murimi Nyamu ranks second in the GVC after turning in a personal-best clocking of 15 minutes, 29.1 seconds in a runner-up finish at the George Fox XC Classic in Brooks on Oct. 10. He led Forest Grove to a competitive sixth-place finish in the varsity gold division at the Classic.

Sophomore Max Norman ran 16:04.7, also a PR, for 14th in Brooks, a time that ranks him fourth in the GVC. Recovering nicely from an injury early this season, Matt Stanich sliced nearly a minute off his best at the Classic, running 17:02.1, which ranks him 14th in the league. Riley Stewart (17:17.9, 16th in GVC) and Hyrum Hansen (17:28.3, 22nd) are also likely to run in the top five for the Vikings.

The girls are also poised to put up a strong title defense after four of their top five runners turned in personal bests at the Classic and the other in that group ran a season best.

Freshman Hannah Aguirre cracked the 20-minute barrier for the first time, running 19:45.8 for 38th place in a fast field. That ranks her 10th in the league. Ellie Schnorr just missed that milestone herself, finishing 41st in 20:01.7, good for 12th in the league entering the district meet. Ellie Khoury (20:26.8, 14th in GVC) and Esther Vega (21:22.6, 22nd) also ran PRs, while Hannah Berdahl (21:17.8, 22nd) set a season best by some 31 seconds.

The GVC tilt could be quite the battle, as Forest Grove and South Salem seem to have their noses just in front — hypothetically based on season-best times — in a near dead heat, but McMinnville is right on their heels, and Sprague, McKay and even North Salem are all in the mix to potentially pick up state berths. So the Vikings will need another solid district meet outing to ensure their fifth state meet appearance in as many seasons.

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