Forest Grove's Norman runs away with Pacific Conference title
Success is relative. Forest Grove High School standout distance runner Quincy Norman, who took the local track and cross country scene by storm three years ago when he placed second in the 3000 meters at the OSAA State Track and Field Championships, won the Pacific Conference District Championship with a time of 15:24.2 this past Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Joe Dancer Park in McMinnville.
But while impressed by and proud of Norman, head coach Adrian Shipley was equally impressed with his Vikings girls team which, while failing to qualify anyone for state, showed out amongst the league's elite and capped a truly phenomenal season for a group that still has the best to come.
"As a coach, their season and district meet was inspiring to me," Shipley said. "As a coach, you hope at a championship meet that your kids run their best, so to go out and do what they did, it's pretty awesome."
What they did was finish fifth. But they did so with a group of four freshmen spearheaded by two more veteran runners, Joelle Thacker and Allyson Hammond, who nurtured the pack of young athletes who were getting their first real experience running at the high school level.
"Joelle and Ally have done a really good job of leading a really young girls team who are excited about the sport," Shipley said. "Four of the six freshmen girls ran varsity for us at districts, and that's a success and truly their story."
Freshman Alyssa Nguyen was Forest Grove's highest finisher, placing 21st with a time of 21:27.9. Nguyen improved her best time by more than three minutes from the start of the year, and went from a borderline scorer for the Viks to their number one finisher at the conference championship. Thacker was Forest Grove's next highest finisher (23rd) with a time of 21:49.0, followed by Hammond (22:02.0), Makenna Marietta (23:01.8), Yamil Gaona Miranda (23:01.9) and Celene Garcia Cervantes (23:20.3).
"The girls did phenomenal," the coach said. "They've been improving throughout the year and it's really been a lot of fun to watch."
Sherwood won the girls competition, with Wilsonville placing second and Liberty third. With their third place finish the Falcons qualified for state, led by senior Breanna Rebich who placed fourth with a time of 20:01.9, followed by Alexa Smith (20:50.9), Emma Parish (21:13.3), Livia Knapp (21:25.2), Jasmine Cleveland (22:00.3), Morgan Boddy (22:54.8) and Kasey Perkins (23:50.5).
Century was sixth and Glencoe seventh.
On the boys side, Sherwood ran away with the team competition, boasting seven of the top eight finishers. Newberg was second, McMinnville third, then Forest Grove, Liberty, Glencoe and Century.
Norman continued his record-breaking season with his first place finish, and according to Shipley, is on pace for what could be an epic performance this coming Saturday at the state meet.
"(Quincy) wanted to focus on a fast finish and he did that," the coach said. "He ran a really fast kilometer and opened up a pretty big gap on the field.
"The idea was to see what kind of distance he could put on some really quality runners, and he put the pedal down and showed that he could open it up pretty good."
In addition to his Pacific Conference title, Norman boasts two seconds and a fourth in three of the biggest events locally of the season, the Meriwether Cross Country Classic, Nike Portland XC and Nike Hole In The Wall XC Invitational, along with a personal best time of 15:06.3 at Meriwether.
And does Shipley think he's peaking with state right around the corner?
"That's the goal," he said. "We'll let next weekend speak for itself."
The OSAA State Cross Country Championships are scheduled for this Saturday, Nov. 9, at Lane Community College in Eugene.
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