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Forest Grove qualifies six for state

Ben Pearson will lead a strong contingent of Vikings at the Class 6A state track meet

On to Eugene.

The Forest Grove track and field teams brought their best against the best in the Greater Valley Conference last week, and the Vikings advanced a total of six athletes out of the district meet to this week’s Class 6A state meet in Eugene.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: KENT FRASURE
 - Forest Grove senior Ben Pearson clears a hurdle on his way to victory in the 110-meter hurdles last Friday at the GVC district track meet.

Ben Pearson paced the Forest Grove boys to a third-place team finish with two district meet titles. The senior won both the 110-meter hurdles and the high jump to lock up a return trip to Hayward Field.

Pearson cruised to victory in the high hurdles last Friday in 15.25 seconds, beating runner-up Micah Masei of West Salem by nearly two-thirds of a second. The day before, he cleared 5 feet, 11 inches in the high jump to best the rest of the field by two inches and pick up his first league title in any event. He also finished a nonqualifying third place in the 300 hurdles (40.89).

As he did last year, Murimi Nyamu will be joining Pearson at state. Nyamu took second behind West Salem’s Ahmed Muhumed in the 3,000 meters to book his second consecutive trip to the state track meet. Nyamu finished in 8:48.85 to Muhumed’s 8:44.98 clocking.

A day later, Nyamu took third place in the 1,500 behind Muhumed (3:57.43) and McMinnville freshman Zane Fodge (4:00.51). Nyamu, who was timed in 4:01.69, picked up a wildcard berth to state and will make his state debut in that event on Saturday.

Matt Stanich became yet another repeat state qualifier for Forest Grove by picking up his second straight 800-meter title. The senior ran a time of 1:59.96 to just edge Fodge (2:00.01).

And pole vaulter Joel Fletcher officially confirmed his entry on Sunday. He finished third in the pole vault with a lifetime best clearance of 13-2, which was good enough for a state wildcard entry.

Two girls will join Pearson, Stanich, Fletcher and Nyamu at state. Freshman Mila Lumae was a bit of a surprise qualifier in the pole vault. She picked a great meet to improve her lifetime best by seven inches, and by going 9-1, she finished second to McMinnville senior Jessica Noyes (10-1).

And Alyssa Villalobos will be making her fourth consecutive trip to the state meet after a second-place finish in the long jump. Villalobos also had a timely personal best. She leaped 17-11 to take second behind McMinnville’s Montanna Gubrud (18-2). Those marks are the top two in Class 6A heading into state. A senior, Villalobos took sixth place in the long jump at the 2014 state meet.

Villalobos was one of the busiest Vikings at the GVC meet. She finished fourth in both the 100 hurdles (16.22) and javelin (110-0), and she also took eighth in the 300 hurdles (53.01). Last Thursday, she ran times of 16.00 and 47.41 in the preliminaries for the hurdles races, respectively.

Forest Grove’s boys team also picked up points from Max Norman (3,000, fourth, 9:14.47; 1,500, sixth, 4:20.10), Bobby Taylor (discus, fourth, 133-0; shot put, eighth, 43-8½), Riley Stewart (800, fourth, 2:01.26), and the 1,600 relay of Jackson Maybee-Davis, Hyrum Hansen, Riley Stewart and Garrett Stewart (sixth, 3:37.47).

The Vikings scored 79 points in third place. West Salem piled up 191½ points, followed by McMinnville (122).

On the girls’ side, Ilean Franco was another busy athlete. Individually, she finished fifth in the 100 (13.33) and sixth in the 200 (27.95). She also teamed with Bailey Mickel, Dominque Duncan and Britney Perdew for eighth in the 400 relay (52.95), and with Duncan, Perdew and Hannah Berdahl for sixth in the 1,600 relay (4:18.27)

Other girls scorers were Hannah Aguirre (3,000, third, 11:00.22), Ellie Khoury (1,500, fourth, 5:01.98; 800, seventh, 2:30.94), Berdahl (800, fifth, 2:28.24), Ellie Schnorr (3,000, fifth, 11:30.17), Duncan (400, seventh, 1:03.29) and Brittany Pitarresi (800, eighth, 2:35.48).

West Salem also won the girls team title with 138 points, followed by McMinnville (138½), North Salem (73), McNary (69) and Forest Grove (61).