As expected, both the boys and girls Hermiston High School Cross Country teams will be headed to the OSAA Class 5A State Meet after finishing in the Top-Two at the Columbia River Conference District Meet.

On the boys side, top four runners Eduardo Juarez, Jose Macias, Effrain?Jaime and Alejandro Cisneros ran the entire race together, finishing within 2 seconds of each other with no one else in sight, easily taking the top four spots in the race. The win sealed up the Bulldogs third consecutive CRC title.

“They planned to just run together the whole time, and just to get through this week unscathed,”?Hermiston coach Jake Puzey said. “They figured they might as well not kill themselves to get to state.”

The Bulldogs accrued 19 points in the race, just four more than the minimum amount that can be attained in a race, and 32 less than runner up?Pendleton.

After the “Big Three” of Macias,?Cisneros and Juarez sat out the previous meet, they came “chomping at the bit” as Puzey described, ready to take on the CRC and get prepared for a state meet they’ve won and came in second in in the past two seasons. Puzey knows every position matters, and this year it will come down to the fifth runner as much as the first.

“We're going to go race, and throw our hat in the ring and see where the chips fall,” Puzey said.

On the girls side, the Bulldogs came up just short of taking the top spot, finishing three points behind Hood River.?Maggie Coleman took second in the race, finishing with a time of 18:38.39.

Hermiston came in with a target on their backs, and Hood River responded by taking the win.?The Bulldogs will still be moving onto the state meet, and may even be a little relieved that they’re coming in as more of an underdog. It will be their first state appearance since 2010.

Puzey wasn’t concerned about the second-place finish, and feels as good as he can about the girls team taking the top spot.

“Any time you go to state, there's no point in going if you’re not trying to win the thing,”?Puzey said. “I’m not trying to make predictions, but I feel like this is as good as shot as we've got.”

The OSAA Class 5A State Meet will be run on?Saturday at Lane Community College in Eugene.

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