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St. John the Baptist's Fernando Sanchez shines at CHSAA championships

Fernando Sanchez of St. John the Baptist takes

Fernando Sanchez of St. John the Baptist takes first place in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles during the CHSAA track and field league championships on Sunday at St. Anthony's' Credit: Dawn McCormick

It had been two full years since Fernando Sanchez last ran the 400-meter hurdles, and it almost felt like yesterday. Sanchez, a senior at St. John the Baptist, won the event at the CHSAA outdoor track and field League Championships in 2019, the last time it was held. Sunday, as the meet was reborn under a sunny sky at St. Anthony’s High School, Sanchez found himself running against many of the same faces from two years ago, with the same result – a victory.

Sanchez won the longer hurdles in 54.81 seconds. He also won the 400 meters – sans hurdles – in 49.98 seconds and ran a 50.1 second anchor leg for the 4X400 meter relay team that finished second in 3:30.87. He was named Track MVP of the meet.

Sanchez said he had been working for a few weeks on his return to the hurdles, something he didn’t do in regular-season competition.

"My main focus was getting over the hurdle and sprinting to the next hurdle," Sanchez said.

The victory spoke to how versatile Sanchez is. The senior can rubber band up and down the track. He said he’s been primarily focused on 400 and 800s this spring, with a mile and a 1,200 leg on a distance medley relay thrown in.

"I enjoy running 400s, even though they are killer," Sanchez said.

St. Anthony’s won the team championship with 120 points, marking their 12th straight outdoor league title, coach Tim Dearie said.

St. Anthony’s Robert Doherty won the 1,600 meters in 4:22.92 and anchored the 4X400 meter relay that won in 3:26.22 and the 4X800 relay that won in 8:21.48.

Doherty battled Chaminade’s Frank Naudus in the 1,600. The two ran shoulder to shoulder at the bell with Naudus making a move ahead with 300 meters left. Doherty countered near the 200-meter mark and carried that move to victory. Naudus was second in 4:25.92.

"I was expecting [Naudus] to make a big move to get me all tied up," Doherty said. "But, I just knew I had to stay on him and kick it in the last 200."

Waiting to answer a late move in a championship race is one of the hardest parts of the sport. It’s human nature to want to counter right away, but Doherty knew he had to wait.

"It takes a lot," Doherty said. "There’s always a part of me that’s like, ‘you should just pack it in,’ but I thought ‘no, I have to do it for my team. That’s what I did. I hung on and kicked it in the last 200. It’s mostly mental."

In the field, St. Anthony’s Nicholas Lourenco won the pole vault, clearing 15 feet and was named field MVP of the meet. Teammate Steven Cayea won the shot put, throwing 41 feet, 7 ½ inches.

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