St. John the Baptist’s Patrick Kain and St. Anthony’s Freddie Buckholtz were neck-and-neck, or perhaps more accurately, shoulder-to-shoulder for 2,800 meters of the 3,000 steeplechase early in Saturday’s CHSAA boys track and field championships at St. Anthony’s High School.

In a meet in which even fractions of a point are treated like world championships, and for good reason, neither runner was about to yield an inch of ground. As if connected by a string, the two bounded over hurdles and into the water jump.

With 200 meters remaining, Kain had had enough of the stalemate. It was now or never, and he chose now. The sophomore sprinted ahead of senior Buckholtz, panting down the final straightway and winning the race in 9 minutes, 34.55 seconds.

“He tried to pass me to go into the water pit,” Kain said. “Then, I made my move and just sprinted. I didn’t look back. I just went all the way through the line.”

“It was a slow pace that ended up being a kicker’s race at the end,” Buckholtz said. “He had more than me at that point. I think I should have gone earlier.”

Kain and Buckholtz’s tight positioning served as a precursor for how the team portion of the meet would play out. St. Anthony’s won their eighth consecutive league title, scoring 77 points. St. John’s was second with 76.5.

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St. John’s was originally declared the winner by one half of a point but, after a clerical error in the scoring was discovered, St. Anthony’s was crowned the champion. A point earned by Chaminade in the 4 x 400 relay mistakingly had been given to St. John’s.

Buckholtz came back and won the 800, finishing in 1:56.43, outpacing St. John’s Mike LaFemina (1:57.59) who took second. It was Buckholtz’s first open 800 since he was a freshman. Buckholtz’s estimated he ran a 58-second first lap.

“I definitely wanted to get back from the [steeplechase] loss. We were going on the first lap and it felt like it was way faster,” Buckholtz said. “Then I saw the time and it wasn’t as fast as I thought. I thought it might be because I was tired from steeple. That’s why I went.”

St. Anthony’s Ryan Kutch won the 3,200 in 9:41.76. Kutch, along with Ryan Dearie, Sean Vierling, and Matt Payamps, won the 4 x 800 relay in 8:14.04. Kutch, who also ran well in the 1,600 before pulling up to allow his teammates to cross the finish line before him, was awarded the meet’s track MVP.

St. Anthony’s Christopher Langer won the 1,600 in 4:25.40. Teammate Bryant Lewis won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 3 inches and was awarded field MVP.

Kain was one of four St. John’s winners. Alvero Garcia won the 400 hurdles in 58.65. Derrick Magwood won the 400 in 50.79 and Frank Pepe won the triple jump in 42-53⁄4 inches.