Cross country runners from the area have traditionally performed well, but few have been able to achieve what Hermistons boys team accomplished.
After placing four runners in the top-10 at the Class 5A state championships Nov. 6, the Bulldogs capped off a dominating season in style, earning the schools first team state title in the sport.
Scoring 69 points, which are assigned to runners by what place they finish, Hermiston didnt have anyone set personal records at Lane Community College in Eugene. They did, however, tackle the course with an aggressive, yet tactful attitude they had done the entire year.
Hermiston head coach Jake Puzey had said he pretty much gave up trying to figure out who would be the top runner at meets because all his runners were good enough to be the best on the team any given week.
The parity on this team is evident, and senior Juan Delgado is a classic example. After posting times that put him around the bottom of the varsity lineup for most of the season, Delgado turned in a second-place finish at the Columbia River Conference championships. But he wasnt done.
At state, he crossed the finish line in sixth-place, being the second Bulldog finisher.
With sophomore Eduardo Juarez, senior Andrew Valdez and a pair of freshman in Jose Macias and Alex Cisneros, the Hermiston team was just that a team in a sport where the spotlight is more cast on the individual standing.
This team will be back for more, and I think will hoist the state title trophy once more, at least.
The Hermiston girls team, on the other hand, are building toward what the boys accomplished. The young lineup of girls, led this season by freshman Katie Markwick and junior Jordyn Rohrman, finished 11th at the state meet and second at the CRC championships.
From runners competing at the state meet, Hermiston loses just one, senior Marissa Worstell. Along with Markwick and Rohrman, junior Gaby Villegas and sophomores Maryanna Jimenez and Abby Johnston provided great depth all season, running personal bests at the CRC meet Oct. 30.
Anytime runners are still earning personal bests near the end of the season, the training regimen is working like it should. That is both a testament to Puzey for knowing what to do and the runners for doing it to the best of their abilities.
Throw in another freshman, Kell Niederwerfer, and this is a team that is going to open some eyes in the coming years and put fear in opponents. Theres nothing more intimidating than knowing all to compete for is second place.
Members of the Umatilla Vikings cross country team didnt just run for themselves this season, they ran for the late and great head coach Rick Wyland.
A very popular coach amongst team members past and present, Wyland was the quintessential high school coach. He didnt just teach his runners about how to run fast and make him look good, but he taught them life lessons.
Ricks son, 25-year-old Chris, took the reigns of his fathers team this season and had one of his runners qualify for the state meet, senior Obi Harriman.
Harriman ran to a 12th place finish in the Class 3A/2A/1A race Nov. 6 at Lane. His personal best, like almost all of the boys for the Vikings, came at the Concordia Puma Classic, where he ran a 16:32. Seniors Clayton Forshee and Seth Lowrence will also be missed from the club.
On the girls side, Umatilla is also loaded with youth. Sophomore Muranda Cranston and junior Dana Cardenas turned in the top times for the Vikes this year. Cardenas ran a season-best 21:43 at the Special District 5 championship meet to place seventh.
Cranston finished 14th at the conference meet, but ran her best time at the Regis Invitational in Stayton. She posted a 21:51 against some top-notch competition in the classification.
Low turnout has been the thorn in coach Eric Jensens side for the past few years, but a boost in numbers on the boys side definitely put Stanfield on the district radar once again.
With just one senior, Danny Angel, the Tigers placed fourth in the conference meet, which was held at Pendletons McKay Park.
Junior Hector Hernandez ran Stanfields fastest 5,000-meter time this year, clocking in a 17:20 at the Eastern Oregon 2A/1A Invitational in Stanfield on Oct. 15.
Another junior, Eddy Ramos, also ran a race under 18 minutes at the same meet, finishing in 17:58. Marcos Madrigal, the third junior on the team, ran an 18:29 for third-best on the team.
Only two runners turned out for the girls team, junior Nidia Ibarra and sophomore Yesica Pena. Pena ran a personal-best 24:22 at the Eastern Oregon 2A/1A Invite.