PENDLETON — Consistently at district track meets — and even more so in small leagues like the Columbia River Conference — it pays to have size. Not the hulking girth that launches a shot put or the height to get up and over a high jump bar, but size in numbers.
That’s the Hermiston Bulldogs this season, who will look to take home a CRC district title during the two-day track meet in Pendleton this weekend. Events start at 2:30 p.m. on Friday with another full day of competition on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.
Particularly on the girls’ side, the Bulldogs are stacked high.
It starts with the throwers for the Dawgs. Hermiston has the top three shot put tossers in the conference in Mckenzie Byrd, Kayla Blankenship and Crystal Schmidt. Those same girls — along with Hope Butler — dot the tops of the discuss and javelin rankings as well.
Byrd, a sophomore, has set personal records this season in the shot and javelin, throws of 41 feet and 134 feet, two inches respectively. Both rank first in the district and third overall in Class 5A.
In the sprints there’s a set up for an interesting showdown between Hermiston’s Karla Gonzalez and Pendleton’s Sandra Torres. The pair rank in fourth or higher in the 100- and 200-meter runs. At last year’s state meet, Gonzalez edged Torres by 0.4 seconds in the 200.
Torres is currently leading the conference in the 400 meters with a 59.28, the only CRC racer to break the minute mark.
Pendleton is expecting big things from Xayna Robinson, who currently holds the top high jump mark in the league at 5-2, tied with Hermiston’s Schmidt. Robinson is also a dangerous long and triple jumper but will likely be held out of those events because of a nagging foot injury.
“We’re able to keep her in the high because it’s her other takeoff foot so she’s not landing and crushing on that leg,” Pendleton coach Mark Christensen said.
For the boys, Hermiston’s strength lies in its distance corps. The Bulldogs’ Alejandro Cisneros, Jose Macias, Eduardo Juarez and Javier Velasco are in the Top 4 in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meters in the CRC.
A Hermiston 1-2-3 finish isn’t out of the question, coach Rohrman said.
“The 3,000 meter, I think that’s going to be the race to watch,” he said. “That’s going to be three of our kids, trying to drag all three to the state meet.”
At the Last Chance Meet in Hood River this past Friday, Hermiston’s David Barnett set a personal record by 15 feet with a javelin toss of 193, giving him the second-best mark of any thrower in Class 5A this season. Any throw comparable to that would punch his ticket to the state meet in Eugene on May 25-26.
Pendleton’s got a potential state champion in Kevin Robinson, a hurdler. His times are the best in the conference in the 110 and 300 meters. His 300 time of 39.64 seconds is the second in 5A and just 0.09 seconds behind Summit’s Michael Wilson for first.
“He does what he’s supposed to do and has been getting inch by inch closer to the school record of the 300 hurdles,” Christensen said. “Who knows, if he has a warm day he might just make it happen.”
The Pendleton record for the event is held by Kris Higginbottom, who ran a 39.30 in 1982.
The high jump is another strong Buckaroos event. Pendleton has four different athletes in the Top 5 in the conference, led by Donte Robinson’s 6-1 jump that came back in the second meet of the year.
Contact AJ Mazzolini at email@example.com or (541) 966-0836.