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The Vikings' boys and girls finished eighth and ninth in last year's state meet and hope to build on that success this season

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Hannah Berdahl will be a valuable asset to the Viking girls cross country team this season.
As the 2017 high school cross country season kicks into gear, the Forest Grove boys and girls teams expect more of the same: success.

The Viking boys won last season's conference championship. The girls won their third consecutive conference title last season. And both won their fifth title in the last six years.

Surprising? Not really, because head coach Adrian Shipley annually sets goals of a conference title and top-10 finish at the state meet. But while aspiring to excel, the coach and his team also understand none of it comes absent the hard work and commitment necessary to achieve.

"I'm never entirely sure where we stand coming into a season and I don't like to put the pressure of expectations on kids," Shipley said. "But if we stay focused on the process I think we can achieve at a pretty high level."

Shipley's boys return two all-state honorees in brothers, senior Max and sophomore Quincy Norman. Quincy finished 12th in last year's state meet as a freshman and later second in the 3,000 meters at the OSAA 6A Track and Field Championships in Eugene, while Max placed 16th at the state cross country meet, earning an honorable mention all-state selection. In addition to the standout Normans, the Vikings return a mix of experience and youthful talent NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Forest Grove's Max and Quincy Norman will be key contributors to the Viking cross country team this season.Shipley is excited to see develop as the season progresses.

"We have a really good balance," the coach said. "I'm anxious to see where we can be with some hard work and good health."

Aside from his known quantities, Shipleyis curious to see how some of his squad's youth pans out.

"Oscar Almeda played soccer last year and ran varsity in track as a freshman," Shipley said. "He put some miles in this summer and has been really taking to running and is picking things up pretty quick. Jonathan Wallace is another kid who's put in the work, and Ben Schnorr ran well in his first 5K."

The girls return four of their top-five scorers from last season's state meet, including senior Hannah Berdahl, juniors Hannah Aguirre and Ellie Khoury and sophomore Joelle Thacker. In addition, they expect sophomore Cynthia Torres and junior Mila Lumae to be key contributors to this year's squad.

"Hannah Aguirre and Hannah Berdahl bring a lot of experience," said Shipley. "And Ellie Khoury ran in the state track meet last year ... a great experience running at a high level. I expect those top three to have great years and Joelle, Cynthia and some of the others to really push them."

Last week, the team traveled to Salem's Bush Park for the Greater Valley Conference Preview Meet, which offers all of the league's schools an opportunity to get acclimated to and compete on the course which will later host districts. Forest Grove swept the event, led by Quincy Norman and Hannah Aguirre, who placed first and sixth individually.

On the boys side, Max Norman placed third, Osker Almeda sixth, Isaac Lopez-Haas seventh and Gavin Vance tenth.

On the girls side, Berdahl placed eighth, Torres ninth, Thacker 11th, and Lumae 17th to round out the scoring.

"Both the boys and girls ran well, but the priority is to preview the meet and course," said Shipley. "The kids ran smart and strong, which was great."

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