MISSION — In 1994, Juan Sanchez won the boys cross country district title for Hermiston High School, the first individual title for the school.
Twenty-three years later on Thursday afternoon, his son, Isaac, bookended the family legacy at Hermiston and captured the final district title in Oregon for Hermiston. The school will join the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association next year.
Isaac, a senior for the Bulldogs, completed the 3.1 mile course that winds through the hilly front nine holes at the Wildhorse Resort Golf Course in a time of 16 minutes, 11 seconds for the Columbia River Conference 5A District 5 boys title.
It was the first thought that went through his mind as he sped toward the finish line to seal his victory.
“For my dad to be the first and now I’m the last in Oregon, I thought that was pretty neat,” Sanchez said proudly after the race. “It feels great, I’ve worked hard ever since my freshman year ... and it finally paid off today.”
Sanchez and his Bulldog teammates ran the same course just one week ago at the Kyle Burnside Memorial Invite where he ran a time of 16:32 with a fourth place finish. He confirmed that having that prior experience on the course was a help to him, making him feel more prepared for some of the challenging hills and quick turns. It seemed to help, as Sanchez hit the one mile and two-mile markers neck-and-neck with Hood River Valley’s Josh Haynes. Then with roughly a half-mile left, Sanchez turned it on and finished with a 14-second cushion on second place.
“My strategy was to try and take the lead early but not go too crazy,” he said. “Kind of maintain my pace until the end and then kick it in towards the end of the race.”
Hood River Valley won the boys team title with 33 points and The Dalles finished in second place with 40 points. Hermiston missed out on a team qualification to state with a third place finish with 53 points and Pendleton finished in fourth place with 119. However, senior Emmanuel Ibarra will join Sanchez at state after finishing in fifth place individually on Thursday with a time of 16:49.4. Pendleton’s top finishers were senior Nick Oja in 21st with a time of 18:04.2 and senior Richard Scott in 23rd with a time of 18:28.2.
On the girls side, Hermiston senior Melany Solorio (19:34.1), and freshmen Amanda Nygard (19:42.7) and Julianna Joyce (20:03.80) all earned top-10 finishes to help the Bulldog girls team finish second in the district and qualify as a team for the state meet. Solorio, who finished in fourth place with a time of 19:34.1, said that qualifying for state was one of their biggest goals of the season in Hermiston’s final year in the OSAA.
“It feels really great, wonderful,” Solorio said happily. “Since the start we’ve said ‘We have to go’ and we really wanted to because we haven’t been in a few years and it feels really good.”
All three Bulldogs also improved their times from last week’s meet, though it wasn’t enough to catch the Hood River Valley trio of Josephine Dickenson (19:18.7), Frances Dickenson (19:20.9), and Lottie Bromham (19:27.2) who took the top three spots individually. Hood River Valley also won the girls team title with 23 points, while Hermiston was second with 46, The Dalles third with 55 and Pendleton fourth with 108.
Pendleton’s top two finishers were junior Rylee Harris in 17th with a time of 21:16.0 and freshman Jordyn Murphy with a time of 21:26.2.
The OSAA 5A State Championship will take place on Nov. 4 at Lane Community College in Eugene.
District Meet Results
Boys Team Scores
1. Hood River Valley, 33; 2. The Dalles, 40; 3. Hermiston, 53; 4. Pendleton, 119.
Girls Team Scores
1. Hood River Valley, 23; 2. Hermiston, 46; 3. The Dalles, 55; 5. Pendleton, 108.
(BOYS) 1. Isaac Sanchez, 16:11.1; 5. Emanuel Ibarra, 16:49.4; 12. Gregory Anderson, 17:22.2; 16. Angel Benites, 17:38.3; 19. Freddy Ibarra, 17:53.2; 20. Martin Heredia, 17:57.9; 22. Nicholas Breshears, 18:24.3. (GIRLS) 4. Melany Solorio, 19:34.1; 5. Amanda Nygard, 19:42.7; 10. Julianna Joyce, 20:03.8; 11. Sheila Solorio, 20:17.4; 16. Sidney Tovey, 21:08.7; 22. Faith Bartch, 22:02.2; 25. Morgan Hancock, 22:11.7.
(BOYS) 21. Nick Oja, 18:04.2; 23. Richard Scott, 18:28.2; 24. Michael Brooks, 18:50.2; 25. Vitor Pedrosa, 19:05.2; 26. Curtis Simons, 19:09.7; 27. Wylie Wyant, 19:10.0; 28. Leighton Redcrane, 19:30.8. (GIRLS) 17. Rylee Harris, 21:16.0; 18. Jordyn Murphy, 21:26.2; 23. Katie Beach, 22:05.4; 24. Ashlee Zaugg, 22:07.0; 26. Kendall Bonzani, 22:39.5; 27. Sidney Schreier, 22:47.2; 28. Starr Redcrane, 22:57.4.
Contact Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0839. Follow him on Twitter @ByEricSinger.