Riverbank's Fernandez blisters distance field at section championships

Runner sets top 3,200 mark this season

05/24/2008 3:26 AM

05/24/2008 9:31 AM

SACRAMENTO -- German Fernandez wanted to use the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at Friday's Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Track and Field Championships as a test.

The Riverbank High senior was hoping to compete well in both events, so that he'd be able to race them both again at next week's CIF State Meet.

He more than passed. He aced the course at Hughes Stadium in Sacramento.

Fernandez won the 3,200 in 8 minutes, 45.08 seconds, smashing his own fastest time in the nation this season by eight seconds and putting his time among the top 3,200 runs in state history. Two hours earlier, he won the 1,600 in a blazing 4:07.62.

He joined three other Stanislaus District athletes as winners Friday.

Sierra's Derek Sinclair won the discus. Central Valley's Latrisha Jordan placed first in the 300 hurdles for the second consecutive year. And Buhach Colony's Rachel Hammar won the shot put. The top three placers in each event advanced to next week's CIF state championships at Cerritos College in Norwalk. The Stanislaus District is sending nine athletes in 12 events to state.

It was Fernandez's performance that left the entire stadium abuzz.

"I can't believe I just ran that race," said Fernandez after his win in the 3,200. "This was a test for state. I wanted to see if I could race both events and have enough time to recover in between.

"But when I saw my time (in the 3,200), I knew I could double. Now we'll see what I can do next week."

The crowd at Hughes Stadium was amazed by his times this week. They cheered him throughout both races, rising for a standing ovation as he received his medal for the 3,200 win.

"The crowd was amazing," he said. "They pumped me up. They inspired me to go faster."

Even though he knew he was going to have a good time, the 8:45.08 at the finish line was stunning. As his time was announced, there was an audible gasp from the stands.

"I knew I was going to have a good race today, I felt it," he said. "But when I saw that time, I thought there had to be something wrong with the clock. I thought, 'Did I really run that fast? For real?' "

Yes, it was for real. And everybody who witnessed it was still talking about it half an hour later.

Jordan, a Central Valley senior, won the 300 hurdles in a personal-best 43.32. And she even stutter-stepped her final hurdle.

"I just got my steps off at the end," she said. "It's something I'll have to work on for next week.

But she'll take the time, and the win.

"This is only my second year running the hurdles, so I'm pretty happy," she said. "I know it's going to take something below 43 seconds next week, but I know I have it in me.

"I had sub-43 today, except for that final hurdle. I know I'm capable."

A day after winning the boys shot put, Sierra's Sinclair made it two-for-two when he took the title in the discus with a throw of 156-5.

While Thursday's shot put victory was somewhat expected, Sinclair surprised even himself with the discus win.

"I hit a good throw (154 feet) just before the winner, so I had some confidence," he said. "But even when I hit the 156, I wasn't sure if that was going to stand up. I came in thinking I was going to get top six, but to win the title is wild."

For the second consecutive day, he left Hughes Stadium wearing a gold medal. He'll go to Cerritos College as a double section champion.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Sinclair said. "I still feel I can throw it farther. And I think I'm going to have to at state. I'll just do my best and we'll see what happens."

Buhach Colony's Hammar has had some technique issues with the shot put this season. The Thunder senior has struggled reaching even 40 feet, though she routinely hit that mark as a junior.

"But I've been working on my technique a lot this week," Hammer said. "I'm getting my rhythm back."

It was all there for the finals Friday.

Her winning throw in the shot put was 41-11¼, one of three throws beyond the 40-foot mark on the day. The winner came on her third throw.

"As soon as I let go, it felt pretty good," she said. "Then I felt really good when it landed past the 40-foot line."

It was exactly one foot beyond the automatic state qualifying mark, so Hammar already knew she was going to her third consecutive state meet.

"It was a big weight off my shoulders," she said. "After that, I was just looking to set a personal record."

While the PR didn't come, she's got another week for that. And she knows that's what it's going to take to do well at Cerritos.

"The goal is to PR and hopefully get a medal," Hammar said. "This is my third time going, now I want to take home a medal."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at wdeboard@modbee.com or call 578-2300.

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