PASCO, Wash. — It’s been seven years since the Hermiston’s girls cross-country team has placed a runner in the top 10 at state. On Saturday, they’re hoping to change that.

The Bulldogs will send two athletes to the 3A WIAA State XC Meet on Saturday at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. Junior Amanda Nygard and sophomore Cydney Sanchez will represent the Bulldogs in a lineup full of Washington’s best runners.

“This is the first time since 2012 that we’ve had the confidence that we’ll place a girl in the top 10,” Hermiston cross-country coach Troy Blackburn said. “We didn’t make the progress that we were hoping to (as a team) this year, but we shortened the distance between us and those elite teams.”

With the girls’ race scheduled to start at 1 p.m., Nygard and Sanchez will once again be pitted against North Central, who topped the team standings at last weekend’s 3A District 8 Championships with 17 points, well ahead of the second-place winners from Kennewick (65).

The Hermiston girls finished fourth with 91 points. Sanchez’s personal record of 19:19 earned her seventh place, and Nygard placed 13th at 19:57.

“Amanda has had a couple of meets where she hasn’t been performing as well as she usually does,” Blackburn said, “but we’ve adjusted some things in her diet and routine so she can bounce back to running where she’s usually at.”

Hermiston has not sent any runners to state since 2017. Saturday will mark Nygard’s second appearance at a state meet after her showing as a freshman. It will be Sanchez’s first.

“We always knew Amanda was a phenomenal runner,” Blackburn said. “Getting her back was good for our team. She’s been to state before, so she has that confidence. She’s worked with Cydney a lot. Those two girls have grown so much.”

Hermiston’s Mid-Columbia Conference mates from Kamiakin will also make an appearance on Saturday. The race will be Nygard and Sanchez’s first appearance at a Washington state championship meet.

“We have one of the the tougher districts in the state,” Blackburn said. “We’ve already faced most of the toughest competition. It’s very encouraging.”

3A/2A/1A XC State Championships

Some of the Blue Mountain Conference’s best runners will charge their way to the 3A/2A/1A cross-country state championships on Saturday afternoon.

The race, which begins at Lane Community College in Eugene at 10 a.m., will host the likes of Stanfield junior Sisay Hurty, whose season record came on Sept. 7 at the Hermiston-hosted Runner Soul XC Fest (17:23.70), earning him seventh place.

Junior Madelyn Nichols and freshman Trevor Nichols will represent Heppner in the race. The Mustang boys took second place in the team standings at last Friday’s 3A/2A/1A Special District 3 Championships in Pendleton with 54 points. Trevor Nichols was Heppner’s fastest runner, finishing in third at 16:52.90 to earn his trip to state. Hurty placed fifth at 17:15.70, and Stanfield was third in the team standings with 74 points.

In the girls’ race, Madelyn Nichols crossed the finish line at 19:41.60 for fifth place for her berth to state. The Heppner girls were fourth in the team standings with 82 points.

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