Forest Grove's Quincy Norman breaks course record en route to Viking sweep
The Forest Grove cross country team continued its torrid pace Wednesday, Oct. 4, both on the course and through the Greater Valley Conference.
The Vikings boys and girls swept McKay and Sprague at Anderson Farm in rural Forest Grove, staying undefeated in league competition and building towards the District and State Championships just a few weeks away.
"We ran well today," said Forest Grove head coach Adrian Shipley. "We knew it would be a challenging course, but it was more about competing, having a plan and executing it. And the kids did that."
The boys were again led by standout sophomore Quincy Norman, who dominated the field en route to a course record previously held by former University of Oregon runner and two-time NCAA national track and field champion Elijah Greer.
"Elijah Grier had the course record here and as soon as Quincy heard that he wanted to go for it," said Shipley. "That's probably the hardest I've seen him run this year."
Norman finished the hilly 5K course in a time of 17:09, more than two minutes faster than his nearest competitor. But for Norman, it's not so much about the time, but rather competing against and beating the best, something he feels he's yet to do.
"I didn't do to well in my race last Saturday, so I wanted to come out here and do something good," said Norman. "I don't really worry about times in cross country, I just want to win."
That "last race" was the Nike Portland XC, held at Portland Meadows Race Track. Norman and his Forest Grove teammates ran against some of the country's best high school distance runners, in a field comprised of more than 150 teams. Norman finished 19th individually in a field of elite runners, but while admirable, not up to the high standards the sophomore sets for himself.
"At the Nike race I wasn't really able to run with the top guys, so I want to be able to go out and run and compete with the best," said Norman. "I felt like I couldn't hang with those guys, so I have work to do."
Quincy's brother Max, a quality runner himself, finished second in Wednesday's race and was followed by a slew of Viking runners. Osker Almeda was third, Jonathan Wallace fourth, Ben Schnorr fifth, and Isaac Lopez-Haas, Keltin Oppenlander, Brian Tinoco, Stephen Hayden and Uriel Perez rounded-out the top-11 before McKay's Cristofer Flores came across the finish line.
The domination wasn't entirely a surprise to Shipley, who said his team thrives on terrain like encountered at Anderson's.
"These kids are good in the hills and they seem to like them," Shipley said. "That helps on courses like these."
The Viking girls, while not dominant in as dramatic of fashion, beat a good Sprague team by a score of 24-35, and McKay 16-45. Forest Grove was led by junior Hannah Aguirre who finished second overall with a time of 22:40, two seconds behind Kaylee Mitchell of Sprague.
"Hannah ran a good race," said Shipley. "The Sprague girl was top-3 in the 800 last year at state, and Hannah kicked with her really well."
After Sprague's Elise Abbott, who finished third, the Vikings' Elizabeth Khoury, Mila Lumae and Joelle Thacker placed fourth, fifth and sixth, while Cynthia Torres finished ninth. Forest Grove was without one of their standout runners, Hannah Berdahl, who was resting due to a minor injury.
Shipley feels his team is starting to come together and is excited about the upcoming district and state meets, but also understands that success is about putting it together at the right time.
"If we can compete like we did today, we're right where we want to be," said the coach. "But you've got to put it together on that one big day, but today was a step in a positive direction and we now have a chance to go 8-0 going into the district meet."
The Vikings are next scheduled to compete in a three-way dual with South Salem and McMinnville at McMinnville, Wednesday, Oct. 11.