If the Hermiston runners who competed in at the 5A boys state cross country championships are not reveling in their third-place team finish Nov. 1, they are at least content with how well their season ended.

“I think we finished on a good note,” Hermiston head coach Troy Blackburn said this week. “I said at the beginning of the season I wanted to be top three, and we (were). When you hit your goals, it’s hard to be upset.”

They are upset, in a way, however. Junior Hayden Earl started out paced to finish in the top 10 but fell to 11th. Hermiston didn’t have any other runners in the top 20, but the team effort was still good enough for a finish in the top three.

Hermiston took third last season, too, and repeated the feat in Blackburn’s first season at the helm, finishing behind Crater and Summit. Summit won the championship title with a near perfect score of 19, and Crater took second with a score of 61.

“I don’t think Crater and Summit were achievable this year,” Hermiston junior Josiah Niederwerfer said. “I think next year we will have a better shot because some guys are moving up.”

It isn’t just Niederwerfer who is already making plans for next year, Blackburn said.

“I was talking to some of the runners, and they said they wanted to finish stronger (at state),” he said. “So, we need to go out and make higher goals and get top 2, but Crater and Summit return a lot of strong runners, and we will have to work a lot harder and be a lot better.”

On the girls team, Melany Solorio, the lone Hermiston girl at state, placed 43rd and set a personal record in the process, Nov. 1. Solorio qualified as an individual with a sixth-place finish at the Columbia River Conference meet two weeks ago when “she ran out of her mind,” according to Blackburn.

“It was nice to see she could repeat that performance again,” Blackburn said of the freshman. “I think next year her goal would be top 20. I think she can break top 20, maybe more than that, maybe top 15. She’s been running every day since state and is committed to having a better performance.”

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