Fall practices officially start Monday for high

school athletics in the state of Oregon. It is hard to see anything

but a dominate year for the girls at HHS after a look into the

Bulldogs’ crystal ball.

This isn’t to write off the boys who represent the

Bulldogs for 2011-2012, I just feels like the ladies have the

potential to grab a lion share of the headlines over the next ten

months. The younger classes have lots of talent and some budding

stars adding to the strong foundation of the HHS girls programs.

Those girls compliment an incredibly strong senior class that isn’t

just highlighted by talented athletes, but a lot of these young

women are also tremendous team leaders and they’ve been to the top

before. 

The 2011 graduation ceremony back in June didn’t do

too many favors to some of the boys programs. Take the defending

Columbia River Conference Champion boys’ basketball team as one

example.  Things will obviously look different with Adam Strom

taking over the program from Larry Usher, but the biggest change

from last year’s playoff team may be only one player returns with

the experience of a varsity starter or significant playing time.

The historical success of the program built under Usher suggests

that Strom has plenty of talent in the program that will fill the

many shoes of last year’s senior class, but there is an unknown to

how those players will perform at the highest level. 

The football team graduated about two dozen and quite

a few positions on the field will be played by a new starter this

fall. The baseball team will have to replace the middle infield,

most of the outfield and a majority of the pitching staff. This is

nothing new for high school athletics — it’s a normal cycle.

Players develop in the lower level teams and then are often the

biggest contributors their senior season then the next year a new

batch of faces will be filling the lead roles. 

This is what makes a handful of the girls’ programs

at Hermiston High unique this year. They aren’t following that same

cycle. A lot of the seniors have already been performing on the

main stage for most of their high school careers. These athletes

have already produced conference titles and deep playoff runs in

volleyball, basketball and softball and there are plenty of

successful athletes returning for the girls next spring on the

track. The only downside – if it is even a downside – is with

experience brings expectations. Fans already know what these

athletes can produce, they’ve seen it, heard it and read about it

and will expect it again this year. 

Not every headline is going to highlight Hermiston

High girl’s sports. Through continued success a few of the boys

programs have set the bar in the stratosphere. Jake Puzey’s boys

cross country team has most of the pieces back from last year’s

state championship team to make another run at the title. They

don’t rebuild after graduation of state champions in Curt Berger’s

wrestling room — they just reload with state champions from the

middle school level and continue to churn out top-notch wrestlers.

Those two teams are sure to be mainstays of this sports page. 

I’m not overlooking the boys programs and I’m excited

to start going out to football practice next week, but I’ve had

this reoccurring thought the past few weeks that 2011-2012 is going

to be dominated by the girls at Hermiston High School. The reality

is no matter what happens. I’m excited to get on the radio and

start talking about it again next week. 

Erick is the news and sports director at

KOHU/KQFM. He is also the play-by-play voice of Hermiston High

School athletics. Complain to him at eolson@eotnet.net.

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