DP’s Fernandez receives Gatorade state honor

Bryan Fernandez of Dos Pueblos is the Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Bryan Fernandez of Dos Pueblos is the Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Dos Pueblos running sensation Bryan Fernandez has been honored as the Gatorade State Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Fernandez, the CIF State Division 2 and Southern Section champion, is the first runner from DP to receive the award, which recognizes athletic excellence as well as academic achievement, exemplary character and leadership.

“It’s really special to me,” he said of the award following a brief ceremony Thursday at Scott O’Leary Stadium. “It’s one I’ve seen the past four years, with all these big names in the state. I thought it’d be so cool to win that award. It’s a prestigious award.”

The state award puts Fernandez in the running for the national Player of the Year honor.

It’s well deserved.

Fernandez experienced the greatest season for a high school cross country runner in the area. He went undefeated, winning 11 competitions, including the CIF-SS Prelims, Finals and the State Championship. He won the Seaside, Woodbridge, Clovis and Mt. San Antonio Invitationals, the Santa Barbara County Championship and three Channel League meets.

In the classroom, Fernandez has maintained a 3.97 GPA. He also volunteers his time with local youth sports programs.

“Bryan is mentally tough, confident and absolutely a team player,” DP coach Leslie Roth said. “He does all the little things right, which allows him the opportunity to do his best in each workout.”

Fernandez said he owes a lot of credit for his running success to his DP teammates.

“Having a great team that finished fourth in the state means I have great teammates to run with every day. If I’m not feeling good, I still have someone pushing me every day. That really helped me get to the next level and be strong for the whole cross country season.”

He also acknowledged his coach, Len Miller.

“Coach Miller, his workouts were perfect for what I was trying to do and what I want to be in high school, and saving some (energy) for college.”

Fernandez has narrowed his college choices to three Pac-12 schools: UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State. He’s visiting Arizona State his weekend.

He said he expects to make his decision next week.

Fernandez joins previous California State Boys Cross Country winners Darren Fahey (La Costa Canyon), Ammar Moussa (a two-time winner from Arcadia), Chris Schwantz (Foothill) and German Fernandez (Riverbank). The award was started in 2007.

Other Gatorade state award sports winners from around the country include Ryan Hall (Big Bear High, Cal.), Derek Jeter (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Candace Parker (Naperville, Ill.), Kevin Garnett (Maudlin, S.C.), Abby Wambach (Our Lady of Mercy, N.Y.) and Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Cal.).

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