Hermiston herald. (Hermiston, Or.) 1994-current, June 26, 2019, Page A8, Image 8

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WEDNESDAy, JuNE 26, 2019
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WIAA a perfect fit
HH file photo
Hermiston’s Jayden Ray shoots the ball in front of La Grande’s
Alexyss Chamberlain in the Bulldogs’ 47-35 win over the
Tigers on Dec. 4 in Hermiston.
Photo courtesy of Michael Nejara
Staff photo by E.J. Harris
Hermiston’s Wyatt Noland outruns Eisenhower’s Thomas Oplinger in the Bulldogs’ 61-42 win against the Cadets in Hermiston.
Hermiston’s Jazlyn Romero throws the javelin during the 3A
State Track and Field Championships in Tacoma. Romero won
the state title with a throw of 144 feet, 11 inches.
for Hermiston teams
wo years ago it was a
One month ago,
Hermiston High School
finished its first year in the Wash-
ington Interscholastic Activi-
ties Association and the Mid-Co-
lumbia Conference, with much
“Honestly, I think it went bet-
ter than most people expected,”
Hermiston athletic directory Larry
Usher said. “I figured we would
run into all kinds of problems and
headaches, and that didn’t happen.
The other ADs had us prepared.”
Hermiston first approached
the WIAA in January 2017 about
a possible move to join the
The school was facing the pos-
sibility of being placed in the 6A
Mt. Hood Conference for the start
of the 2018-19 school year had it
remained part of the OSAA. That
would have meant an estimated
404-mile round trip to any sport-
ing contest.
For a three-sport athlete, that
would have equated to 40 missed
days of school because of travel
— about five classes per game
The OSAA wrote a letter of
support for Hermiston to explore
the opportunity.
“There were seven criteria that
had to be met for this to even be
considered,” Usher said. “One
was having the support from your
current organization. This abso-
lutely would not have happened
without that.”
Hermiston became the first out-
of-state school to join the WIAA
as a full member on June 5, 2017.
Usher still remembers getting the
“We traveled to a (WIAA)
board meeting for a presentation,”
Usher recalled. “They had a very
long discussion after we left. They
voted on it, and we got a call later
that evening that they voted to
allow us in.”
Mike Colbrese, executive
director of the WIAA, said the
partnership has gone well.
“We have a very good relation-
ship with them,” Colbrese said. “It
has worked out really well. They
always called the office if there
was a question or they needed a
clarification. Larry won’t guess,
he will call.”
Southridge AD Tim Wood said
his initial reaction of the request
was that Hermiston should join
the MCC.
“It’s what’s best for the stu-
dents,” Wood said. “Teachers and
students were missing classes, and
the transportation costs were high.
We had their backs.”
A penny saved
The move to the WIAA and
MCC saved the Hermiston School
District tens of thousands of dol-
lars just in one year.
Usher said the final numbers
have not yet been tallied, but the
extra money was put to good use.
“We don’t have our final bill
for transportation, but it’s fair to
say it will be much less than in the
past,” Usher said. “We were able
to redirect funds to add girls slow
pitch softball, bowling and wres-
tling. It’s an opportunity to get
more kids involved.”
With the addition of Herm-
iston, the MCC swelled to nine
schools, eliminating the need for
the Bulldogs to have to fill 10 to
15 nonleague basketball, baseball
or softball games.
“A lot of times, we had over-
night tournaments or single games
in the Portland or Eugene area,”
Usher said. “Now, we just have a
couple of nonleague dates to fill.”
Part of the extra money also
has gone to pay coaches who were
volunteering their time, or getting
a small stipend from the booster
“We have the opportunity to
add funds to those programs,”
Usher said. “Some of the coaches
were getting paid by the booster
club, and now that frees up that
money for other projects.”
With most of the MCC teams
less than an hour away, their fans
travel well, which meant increased
revenue at the box office.
“I haven’t looked at all the data,
but we definitely had more fans in
the seats,” Usher said. “A lot of
people said we traveled well.”
A whole new world
Hermiston knew a jump to
the MCC would come at a cost.
The Bulldogs were moving into
a highly competitive conference.
They took their lumps, but they
also gave as good as they got.
“We have a couple of coaches
who liked things the way they
were,” Usher said. “But they saw
the benefits for all the programs.
For some sports, it was a great fit,
for others, it was a wash.”
Led by running back Wyatt
Noland and quarterback Andrew
James, the Bulldogs had a suc-
cessful season on the football
Noland ran for a league-best
1,570 yards and 22 touchdowns,
and led the league in scoring.
The Bullldogs finished 6-4
with impressive road wins over
Richland and Hanford, but with
losses to Kamiakin and Kenne-
wick, Hermiston lost out on a 3A
playoff spot.
The boys basketball team
advanced to regionals before bow-
ing out.
One of the highlights of the
move for the Bulldogs was not
splitting their fan base. In the
MCC, the boys and girls basket-
ball teams play on the same night
at the same venue.
On the mat, the Bulldogs sent
seven to state, with Jon Lee (220
pounds, fifth) and Trevor Wagner
(160, fourth) bringing home state
In the spring, the Bulldogs
had success on the softball
field, advancing to the 3A state
In track, javelin thrower Jazlyn
Romero won a 3A state title.
While watching Romero throw
at state, Usher overheard the fol-
lowing: “excuse me, did they
move the city of Hermiston to
Colbrese had a great comeback
when told of the exchange.
“Darn Lewis and Clark, they
didn’t survey that very well back
in the day,” he quipped.
During the season, Hermis-
ton hosted the District 8 wrestling
tournament, and the MCC 3A dis-
trict track meet.
“They have great facilities,”
Wood said. “It’s a good partner-
ship. We love having them here.
It’s good for their teams and their
Usher said there are no regrets
on their part.
“The only part, which we
expected, is we need to do a better
job competing,” he said. “These
teams are good. We knew a year
and a half ago that we had to get
better, but overall, we did a good
job representing ourselves.”