Staff photo by Alexis Mansanarez
Hermiston athletics tallies five more athletes who will continue sports in college
By Alexis Mansanarez
HERMISTON — For five Hermiston athletes, their paths to sports and their decision to play at the next level came at different times but on Tuesday, they came together to sign their Letters of Intent at Hermiston High.
Stephanie Miears will be attending Eastern Oregon University and throwing for the Mountaineers’ track and field team. Maddy Juul will also be going to EOU and join the women’s basketball team. Tyler Rohrman will be pursing a degree at Whitworth University and running hurdles for the Pirates’ track and field team. Sidney Tovey will be running cross country at Azusa Pacific University and Isaac Sanchez will also be joining Northwest Christian University’s cross country team.
Some of these athletes only recently picked up their sport. Miears didn’t start throwing until track and field head coach Emily Strot recruited her from the girls basketball team, and Tovey made the decision to run cross country after her freshman year.
Miears currently holds the best mark in the state in girls shot put, and will be competing at the track and field championships this weekend.
“I always dreamed, when I was a little kid, that I wanted to get a scholarship to play basketball anywhere,” Miears said, “but then all of the sudden freshman year hit and I’m like, ‘I don’t want to play basketball anymore,’ and I decided to do track so now it’s kind of like my dream is coming true, it just switched to track instead of basketball.”
At first, Miears didn’t want to stay close but after visiting the La Grande campus and meeting her future coaches and teammates, she knew it was the right fit.
“There was just this feeling in my stomach,” Miears said. “I knew it was the right moment, the right place. The coaches there were awesome and the teammates, they acted like they knew me in the first day.”
Similarly for Tovey, who will be pursuing a violin performance major, she was looking for the right fit for both her passion for music and love of running.
The campus nestled in a small town in northern Los Angeles, west of Pasadena, not only checked the boxes academically, but after some persuading from her father, gave Tovey a chance to continue running at the collegiate level.
“So, we were there and the coach agreed to meet with me and they were nice enough to let me be on the roster this year,” she said. “I met with the coaches and they were amazing. I really like the system they have for the works and the summer training so far. I met some of the girls and they were really nice too. It’s just going to be a great step through college, for the rest of my college career it’ll be something fun I get to do.”
The same sentiment was shared by Juul, Rohrman and Sanchez. Each fell in love with their respective schools for a reason, and all three have had the dream of playing at the next level.
For Juul, it started at childhood when she first picked up a basketball but an injury during her senior year gave the 2017 Columbia River Conference Player of the Year a scare.
“Through the injury I was like, ‘I don’t know if this is going to happen,’” Juul admitted. “It was a kind of like a roadblock. It was an obstacle that I’m glad I got to overcome. It definitely just gave me a new perspective on the game and a new love for it. That’s kind of what motivated me to take this step.”
Juul will be playing under head coach Anji Weissenfluh, who has been at the helm of the Mountaineers for 18 seasons. Under Weissenfluh, who has also been the athletic director the past four years, the team has had 13 seasons with 20+ wins and nine appearances in the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championships, which includes three quarterfinal appearances in 2012, 2013 and 2016.
Rohrman and Sanchez, along with Miears, will be competing as Bulldogs one last time. For both, joining the track and cross country team, respectively, was also the goal.
Whitworth wasn’t on Rohrman’s radar until recently. His dad was an alum, and he heard nothing but good things about the campus so he went for a visit and was hooked.
“I just kind of fell in love with it in that one little trip; we went there and I had the feeling, this is where I need to go,” he said.
For Sanchez, NCU didn’t become a real possibility until February, but the school, which is located right by the University of Oregon campus in Eguene, had garnered his attention before.
Sanchez remembers seeing the university after a trip to Hayward, and thinking a small school near a large campus and nationally renowned track and field program would be cool.
“I really liked the campus. The place was great and the people were great,” he said.
It was after that visit in February that he really considered attending NCU.
“I really enjoyed it there.”