Forest Grove stages its first home dual meet since the school put in a new track surface

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove sophomore Levi Boyer celebrates at the finish line on the anchor leg of the Vikings' winning 4x400-meter relay last Wednesday in a conference dual meet against McMinnville. In many ways, last Wednesday’s Pacific Conference dual track and field meet at Forest Grove was quite ordinary.

Just as with any meet, the Vikings ran, jumped and threw on a cool, partly cloudy and breezy April afternoon. Both the boys and girls teams were competitive in their first home meet of the season but fell to McMinnville by scores of 92-53 and 84-60, respectively.

“I was really pleased overall with the team’s ... confidence, drive and tenacity,” Forest Grove coach Scott McCahon said.

Beyond his team’s performance and being the first home meet of the season, last Wednesday was special in some respects, a day for which McCahon had waited for some time.

“It was real exciting to get the kids their first meet on the brand new track,” McCahon said. “They were excited ... to run at home. I don’t think it could’ve run any better.”

Not only was the meet the first home contest of 2013, but it also was the first staged on the track since it was redone last summer. The track had been excavated down to the base, McCahon said, and a new surface was poured. The funds used to redo the track came from the bond measure passed in November 2010 that is adding classroom space and improving athletic facilities at Forest Grove High School.

Levi Boyer, a sophomore, ran on the old track last year as a freshman. He remembers what it was like, a surface McCahon said “was hard as a rock.”

“I remember getting shin splints, like, a lot. The whole year I had shin splints,” said Boyer, who finished second in the 400 meters and third in the 200. “But this year, not so bad. I don’t have shin splints, so I don’t know. I believe the track might be helping that.”

Boyer was part of one of the most exciting races of last Wednesday’s competition, the meet-concluding 4x400-meter relay. After legs by Christian Guerra, Ricky Torres and Duncan Stewart, Boyer took the baton on the anchor leg trailing his McMinnville counterpart, but he passed him with about 200 meters to go and maintained an advantage to the finish line to win in 3 minutes, 39.74 seconds, .29 faster than McMinnville.

“While I was behind him, I noticed the wind had been blowing on us the entire time, so I kind of timed the gap to close in,” Boyer said, referencing the breeze that blew in the runners’ faces down the backstretch for much of meet.

“So I decided to let him block the wind all the way to the 200 meter (mark) and just zoom right by him and hold him off.”

Like their male counterparts, the Forest Grove girls capped the meet with a win. The long relay quartet of Corinne Reed, Jessica Bickford, Alyssa Villalobos and Dominique Duncan cruised to victory in 4:27.57, more than 18 seconds ahead of McMinnville.

Reed and Villalobos contributed individual wins as well. Reed took the 300 hurdles in 53.07. The junior also was second in the 100 hurdles (18.24) to McMinnville’s Lucy Bellville (17.32).

Just a freshman, Villalobos put the rest of the Pacific Conference on notice with a winning mark of 16 feet, 2 inches, which was tied for the third-best jump in the league heading into today’s round of dual meets. The distance was a personal best by five inches.

by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Forest Grove junior Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, who won a state title in the 1,500 meters last spring, chats with distance coach Sue Fleskes at last Wednesday's dual meet against McMinnville.“I didn’t know if I was going to get to 16 feet,” said Villalobos, who also placed third in the 200 and ran a leg on the Vikings’ second-place short relay. “That was my goal, and I exceeded that.”

Other girls event winners were Julia Khoury, who led a Forest Grove sweep in the 3,000 (11:52.86), Shannon Hammond in the high jump (5-0), and Elizabeth Dahlke in the shot put (32-1). Runners-up were Duncan (400), Esther Harris (800), Elena Torry-Schrag (1,500), Emilia Anderson (3,000), Dahlke (discus) and Alyssa Boyd (javelin).

Tate de Sully was another field event winner for Forest Grove, in the boys shot put. De Sully posted a league-leading mark of 44-1 on his third of six throws despite working through a back injury that has been restricting his motion. He also took third place in the discus (120-0).

“For a second meet, I thought I did great,” said de Sully, whose winning effort in the shot put was just 5½ inches short of his personal best. “I placed first, and so far I’m doing pretty good.”

In other events, Connor Pitt led Judd Parson and Seth Berdhal to a 1-2-3 sweep in the 1,500, winning in 4:24.87. Berdhal was also second in the 3,000 to Geremia Lizier-Zmudzinski, Forest Grove’s junior superstar who won the 1,500 at state last season but was running his first race in more than 10 months after incurring a stress reaction in his left hip last summer. (For more about Lizier-Zmudzinski, see the accompanying story.) His winning time was 9:15.48. Paul Schot won the long jump in 19-11. Runners-up included Schot in the high jump and Patrick Lash in the pole vault.

On Saturday, the Vikings competed in their first invitational of the season, the Lower Columbia Invitational in St. Helens. The team would not be bringing its full complement of varsity athletes, McCahon said last Wednesday, because of Forest Grove staging its prom the same day.

Dalke turned in two of the top finishes by a Viking at the meet. She threw a season-best mark of 100-4 to win the discus by more than six feet and took third in the shot put (31-3). Also on the girls’ side, Kimberly Heesacker was sixth in the 3,000 (11:49.94), and Abigail Aguirre, Duncan, Bailey Mickel and Reed were sixth in the 4x400 relay (4:34.69).

For the boys, Murimi Nyamu was third in the 3,000 (9:23.72), while Ricky Torres took sixth place in the 100 (12.03) and eighth in the 200 (24.43). Ryan Gochenar finished seventh in the 400 (55.11), as did Ben Pearson in the 110 hurdles (18.75). Gochenar and Torres teamed with Boyer and Guerra for a fourth-place effort in the 4x400 relay (3:40.20), and Guerra, Torres, Stacey Clayton and Jakob Orlowsky were seventh in the short relay (47.88).

Forest Grove travels to Hare Field in Hillsboro this afternoon for a Pacific Conference dual meet against Hilhi, and the Vikings are scheduled to participate in the Wilsonville Invitational on Saturday.

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