Forest Grove's boys and girls teams both claim seventh place at the Class 6A state cross-country championships in Eugene

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove senior Emilia Anderson (404) sprints to the finish line at Saturday's Class 6A state cross-country meet in Eugene. Anderson finished 45th overall with a time of 20:21.EUGENE — Forest Grove’s performance in Saturday’s Class 6A state cross-country meet was historic in a number of ways.

On the boys’ side, Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski took third individually — the best finish ever by a Viking at state. And the team took seventh place, matching the program’s best-ever finish.

As for the girls, they matched their male teammates with a seventh-place result, a better outcome than that of any girls team before them.

“Girls, that’s the highest we’ve scored in school history, so that’s a good thing,” Forest Grove coach Sue Fleskes said. “Boys tied with what we’ve done in the past, so in that case, it’s definitely progress.”

The boys, at least though, left Lane Community College in Eugene wanting a little more. After their sights had been set all season on a top-four finish and a first-ever state trophy, the Vikings fell 20 points short of their goal.

Central Catholic put three runners in the top-10 — including individual champion Kyle Thompson — and all five scorers in the top-13 to roll to the state title with 33 points. City rivals Sheldon (94 points) and South Eugene (118) followed in second and third. Aloha earned the final trophy on a tiebreaker over West Linn — both schools scored 148 points — then came Grant (157) and Forest Grove (168).

The Vikings also finished seventh in 2006, the first fall after the OSAA expanded from four to six classifications.

Competing in just his second state meet after having battled injuries for the better part of a year, Lizier-Zmudzinski eclipsed the school’s all-time high-water mark at the meet — Art Irwin’s 10th-place finish back in 1967, when the race distance was 2½ miles instead of 5 kilometers. (Notably, a runner by the name of Steve Prefontaine, who ran for Marshfield, won that race in record time.)by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove senior Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski leads a pack of runners en route to a third-place finish at Saturday's state cross-country meet.

“I’ll take it. The third place is good,” Lizier-Zmudzinski said. “I figured if the race played out where it went under 10 (minutes) for the first two (miles), I probably wasn’t going to be able to win. I don’t have that kind of strength.”

Indeed, after a 4:55 first mile, the leaders went through in 9:50 for two miles. Lizier-Zmudzinski was not far behind at 9:57, and he hoped he might be able to reel in those runners up front.

But Thompson — also the 2011 state champion — and runner-up Reilly Bloomer of South Eugene stayed out ahead, covering the course in 15:22 and 15:27, respectively. Lizier-Zmudzinski, timed in 15:46, did pass Ahmed Ibrahim of Reynolds for third. Ibrahim held on for fourth in 15:52.

“Today, that’s about all I had,” said Lizier-Zmudzinski, who battled illness last week. “My turnover was pretty good. My arms were moving all right. Stomach and lungs just weren’t there as much as I would have liked to have them.”

Despite collapsing a few yards before the finish line and crawling across, Forest Grove junior Seth Berdahl was 34th overall in 16:40 — 13 places better and 25 seconds faster than his 2012 performance.

Junior Archer Morgan (52nd, 16:55), sophomore Murimi Nyamu (61st, 17:06) and junior Duncan Stewart (84th, 17:40) also scored for the Vikings. Seniors Aaron Orr (87th, 17:42) and Everett Fellger (88th, 17:43) closed out their high school careers by competing for the Vikings at state.

In the girls race, Sunset beat out St. Mary’s Academy 56-71 to capture its first team title since 1989. South Eugene took third with 97 points, followed by Jesuit (99), Grant (108), Sheldon (166) and Forest Grove (220).

Not only did the Lady Vikings post the best finish in school history, but they also exacted a measure of revenge on Tigard, which was ninth with 239 points, two behind Gresham. The Tigers had edged the Vikings the week before at the district meet, denying them their third straight title.

The individual favorite, Grant’s Ella Donaghu, cruised to her first state title in 18:01, 24 seconds faster than 2012 champion Sarah Tsai of South Eugene. Crater’s Gracie Tostenson took third in 18:26.

Rubi Vergara-Grindell moved up late in the race to lead Forest Grove in 33rd place with a time of 20:04. A year ago, the junior was 56th in 20:53.

“I felt happy with my place, but mainly I felt really happy about how our team did as a whole,” Vergara-Grindell said. “I think all together, we brought it together better than last year. That’s what I wanted.”

Running second, Emilia Anderson capped her career in style, finishing 45th in 20:21. She took 78th place in 21:26 in 2012. Freshman Ellie Schnorr was 72nd in 21:14. Running partner Kimberly Heesacker was just two places and eight seconds behind Schnorr, while Elissa Anderson rounded out the team’s scoring in 80th place (21:36).

Tara Campbell (97th, 22:47) and Corinne Reed (103rd, 23:03) also raced for the Vikings.

“It’s been a great season,” Fleskes said. “You can’t be conference champions, make it to state — we’ve had people at state now 10 years in a row, and so that’s good stuff. That shows really strong dedication on these kids’ part.”

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