by David Bashore
Herald sports reporter
Eugene For the second time in the school's history, Hermiston placed in the top four in both the boys and girls divisions at the 5A state cross country meet in Eugene on Saturday.
Hermiston's girls rode a pair of solid runs by senior Jennifer Macias and freshman Shoni Schimmel, who finished second and fourth, respectively, to help the team place second.
Macias dueled fellow senior and defending 3A state champion Ilsa Paulson of Sherwood, but the Bowman proved her class in the latter stages and pulled away to win by 25 seconds.
"I tried to go with her, but I couldn't do it," Macias said. "My arms were bothering me a little, but I don't want to make any excuses because she ran a great race. I can't really be happy with my time, but I'm glad I finished well."
Schimmel, in her first state meet, used her teammate as a rabbit to fight her way through a pack of eight runners immediately behind the breakaway pair of Paulson and Macias.
"It's awesome," Schimmel said of her fourth place finish. "I just kept my eyes on Jennifer and told myself to try and keep up with her."
The Bulldog ladies nosed out Crescent Valley and Crater for second place behind an Ashland squad which ran the perfect team race.
"Ashland ran out of their minds," Hermiston head coach Brandt Lind said. "It's so hard to be able to run in a pack at a state meet because you get strung out but they did it."
Sophomore Jordan Ringe helped lead the boys to a fourth-place finish with his 13th place showing, a 73-slot improvement over his result at the same meet as a freshman.
The Bulldog boys rode a strong race by Jon Larson and Johnny Ngo, who finished 32nd and 44th, respectively, while the rest of their teammates seemed to get pinned deep in the field right out of the chute and had trouble pushing their way forward.
It made for some nervous moments when the scores were made official, there was a mix of relief and satisfaction when Hermiston was announced as having earned one of the coveted trophies.
While the pre-season outlook might have favored Hermiston to take a shot at winning a state title, all the adversity the season presented made fourth place just as sweet.
The Bulldogs lost their ace runner Walter Juarez when he moved to Reno, Nevada in the summer time, and another of their top runners, Krieg Mueller, missed the bulk of the season with a back ailment.
Despite it being his second grueling race in eight days after missing all that time, Mueller was the fifth Bulldog to cross the finish line and scored the clinching points for their fourth-place finish.
There was no doubt in the senior's mind that he was going to be able to come back and make it work for his last run as a Bulldog.
"It's a blessing to be out here, and I don't know what more to say about that," Mueller said. "This is a great group of guys, and it's rewarding to experience this with them. During the race, I just thought about one thing: that I was here at the state meet, and blessed with the opportunity to be here."
Girls team results:
1. Ashland, 58; 2. Hermiston, 78; 3. Crescent Valley, 82; 4. Crater, 87
Girls individual results:
1. Ilsa Paulson, Sherwood, 18:54; 2. Jennifer Macias, Hermiston, 19:19; 3. Amelia Yeager, Crescent Valley, 19:28; 4. Shoni Schimmel, Hermiston, 19:30; 5. Kristen Haga, Crater, 19:34; 6. Malory Peterson, Corvallis, 19:35; 7. Ashley Sol, Bend, 19:38; 8. Kelly Hanson, Mountain View, 19:39; 9. Michelle Foley, Crook County, 19:42; 10. Aria Hemphill, Ashland, 19:46; 25. Melissa McKinney, Hermiston, 20:36; 36. Cristal Delgado, Hermiston, 21:10; 39. Leslie Macias, Hermiston, 21:13; 55. Rebecca Berger, Hermiston, 21:43; 56. Kimberly Macias, Hermiston.
Boys team results:
1. Crater, 41; 2. Klamath Union, 74; 3. Thurston, 83; 4. Hermiston, 145.
Boys individual results:
1. Jakob Keyser, Crater, 15:43; 2. Kevin Elder, St. Helens, 16:02; 3. Chris Reed, Klamath Union, 16:04; 4. Lukas Fenley, Thurston, 16:08; 5. Ryan Santana, Crater, 16:13; 6. Jared Bassett, Marshfield, 16:23; 7. Chris McConnell, Madison, 16:26; 8. Matt Miner, Ashland, 16:31; 9. Tim Costin, Springfield, 16:32; 10. Michael Dueker, Century, 16:33; 13. Jordan Ringe, Hermiston, 16:38; 32. Jonathan Larson, Hermiston, 17:18; 44. John Ngo, Hermiston, 17:27; 53. Neal Lloyd, Hermiston, 17:40; 58. Krieg Mueller, Hermiston, 17:48; 60. Antonio Gonzales, Hermiston, 17:49; 63. Kersee Lind, Hermiston, 17:54.