Riverbank runner Fernandez wows crowd at section championships

May 16, 2008 

Every time German Fernandez runs, the entire stadium seems to hold its collective breath, wondering what the Riverbank High senior is going to do next.

At Thursday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division III Track and Field Championships at Modesto Junior College, he didn't disappoint.

The Oklahoma State-bound Fernandez stormed to victories in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs, finishing each race with a standing ovation from the crowd. He was most impressive in the 1,600, where he nearly lapped a couple of runners in finishing in a state-best 4:05.57. He was nearly as impressive in the 3,200, where he crossed the line in 9:00.10.

The top six placers in each event advanced to next Thursday's section masters meet trials at Sacramento's Hughes Stadium.

Other winners at MJC:

  • Oakdale sophomore Tim House won the discus with a throw of 153 feet, 3 inches.

  • East Union senior Abdiel Martinez-Ramos was the champion in the 400, edging Oakdale's Nicky Batteate, 49.12 seconds to 49.33. Another Lancer, Cassandra Woodall, was the girls shot put champion with a toss of 39-6½.

  • Central Valley senior Latrisha Jordan won the 300 hurdles in 43.44, more than 1½ seconds faster than the runner-up.

  • Modesto Christian sophomore Taryn Garza was the 400 champion, improving on her Division III section record best time by finishing in 57.63.

    Fernandez is getting back into shape after missing about 10 days midway through the season. He competed in the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Edinburgh, Scotland, and injured his Achilles tendon when he returned.

    "I trained aggressively, trying to get back into 'track' shape," Fernandez said. "And that got me hurt. I spent a week and a half riding a bike and lifting weights before I got back out there running.

    "I think it was good. My legs were pretty dead after Scotland. But now I feel stronger, both mentally and physically."

    He doesn't look like he's missed a step.

    "I've been using meets to train and get back into shape," said Fernandez, who started running again three weeks ago.

    He surprised even himself in the 1,600. He completed the first lap in 1 minute flat, followed by laps of 1:01 and 1:02.

    "As I finished the final turn, I saw it said 3:50, and I was like, 'Whoa!,' " said Fernandez, his eyes open wide. "I thought I had a chance at four minutes, so I dug in."

    His 4:05.57 is nearly seven seconds faster than the state's previous best time in that event.

    Central Valley's Jordan qualified for masters in three events -- the 100 and 300 hurdles as well as the 400 -- but said she'll be dropping the 400 in favor of the hurdles. She looked impressive in winning the 300 hurdles.

    "I'm happy with my time but I'm not too happy with my race," she said. "I hit the third-to-last hurdle and it messed me up just enough. At masters and, hopefully, state, I'll have to run perfect races."

    Modesto Christian's Garza was just as impressive crossing the finish line in the 400. She also qualified in the 200 and the high jump.

    "I'm going to continue doing all those events," she said. "Hopefully I can keep it up. We'll see what happens next week at masters."

    Oakdale's House, only a sophomore, uncorked his winning throw in the first of six rounds. He passed four of the next five, and no other competitors were able to match him.

    "Coming out here, I felt a little more adrenaline," said House, who set a personal best with the throw. "After that throw, I knew I was going on to masters. Getting the win makes it that much better."

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