January 12, 2008

Fernandez named state's top runner

Riverbank High senior German Fernandez has been named the Gatorade California Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Fernandez, who set course records at almost every place he raced, was undefeated through the CIF State Championships at Fresno's Woodward Park. At Woodward, Fernandez cruised to the state Division IV crown in a course-record 14 minutes, 24 seconds over 3.1 miles. That was 14 seconds faster than the previous course record, set by former Olympian Marc Davis 21 years prior.

He went to the Foot Locker National Championships after that, placing third on a soggy course at San Diego's Balboa Park.

Fernandez captured the eyes of his entire town, as well as much of the area, during his record-setting runs.

"He has a lot of natural talent, but he has worked hard to get to the national level," said his coach, Bruce Edwards.

Fernandez is the Stanislaus District's third athlete to be named Gatorade's state athlete of the year in their sport. In 1994, Downey's Suzy Powell was the California and national girls track and field athlete of the year after setting the national record in the discus. In 1993, Merced's Brian Wilkerson was the California boys track and field athlete of the year.

With the state honor, Fernandez becomes a finalist for the first-ever Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year award, which will be announced in mid-January.

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