By Ben Reynolds
Herald sports editor
HERMISTON By all accounts, last year's district meet didn't go as planned.
There were not any record-setting performances, and not one defining moment for the Hermiston High School girls track and field team.
In fact, there was a lot of disappointment for some of its younger competitors.
But at the end of the day, when the points were totaled, the Bulldogs stood where they haven't been since 1981: Atop the podium with a district championship.
Afterwards, coach Dave Rohrman said it was total team effort. Hermiston had only three individual district champions, but that meet was about the Bulldogs' depth.
And that's something that has carried over to this season, and has Hermiston eyeing a second straight Intermountain Conference district championship.
The Bulldogs lost a lot of points from last year in Briawna Mueller, who qualified for state in four events and Kristina Ely-Gibson, who went to state in three events. But with a crop of new and young talent, Hermiston has the similar balance and depth it had last season.
"The big thing for us is staying healthy and buying into the program everyday," Rohrman said.
While Hermiston lost all but one of its individual district champions, the Bulldogs return several competitors that just missed out on a district title and a spot at state a year ago.
Sophomore Jennifer Macias, who won the 3,000 meters last season and was third in the 1,500 is one of the top distance runners in the conference as well as the state.
Macias is coming off a third-place finish this past fall in the state cross country meet and is one of the favorites to win both the 1,500 and 3,000.
Adding depth in the distance races is Jennifer's younger sister Leslie and senior Stephanie Raleigh, who will likely run the 800 and 1,500 meters.
Senior Mykael Bothum is gunning for her straight trip to state in the shot put. Bothum is a two-time state placer and finished second at last year's district meet.
Senior Ashlee Hartsteen returns and is looking for a bid at state after taking third at district last season in the discus.
Seniors Marie Ena, Brittany Coombs and Alexis Bobbitt will add depth in the throws.
Junior Anne Barnett, who is off to a strong start this season and won three events Friday at the Buck Classic, will throw the javelin, discus, run the 100 hurdles, and participate in the long jump.
Laura and Sarah Von Arx give Hermiston a solid core in the jumps as well as the hurdles.
Laura just missed qualifying for state last season in the 300 hurdles, taking third.
The depth doesn't stop there. The Bulldogs have a young returning core in the sprints that could contend with just about anyone.
Sophomore Alma Aguiar, along with Jakki Maxwell were part of the 4x100 relay team that qualified for state last season.
Aguiar, Maxwell, along with Kasia Rademacher, Laura Trapp and Lexie Ramirez will all run the short distance events.
Laura Von Arx and Sierra Schultz are the two hold overs from the Bulldogs' record-breaking 4x400 relay team at state.
And the list goes on.
"There is a lot of depth behind that," Rohrman said.
On the boys team, Hermiston does not have that one athlete that is going to go out and win three or four events like last season.
A year ago, Greg Hamm was almost a lock for a first place in the triple and long jump with Adam Barnett providing the same points in the throws.
"We don't have that one kid that is going to dominate," Rohrman said.
But like the girls, the boys have depth. The Bulldogs have a handful of athletes that can go out and score points in bunches.
Adrian Velasquez, who picked up two wins at the Buck Classic, returns to team that finished fourth at district last season and does not have a returning state placer.
Velasquez and Kersee Lind are the Bulldogs' top returners after both took a third place at last year's district meet.
Velasquez will anchor the Bulldogs in the sprints after he took third at last year's district meet in the 100.
Lind earned a third in the 300 intermediate hurdles, and will look to qualify for state in the high jump and as member of the relay teams.
The Bulldogs again have depth in the distance races with seniors Jose Juarez and Lorenzo Gonzalez, junior Justin Dean and sophomore Walter Juarez.
Juniors Josh Ross and Sergio Samaniego lead the Bulldogs in the throws.
Senior Clint Rodgers will add depth in the jumps as well as the sprints.
Freshman Alex Ringe (800, relays) and Eric Zwiefelhofer (pole vault, javelin, relays) and Trevor Hoofard (throws) are all expected to make key contributions.
"Our depth is good," Rohrman said. "We have a lot of young kids . . . we are balanced and deeper."