Plano West runner keeps foes at a distance

03/25/2001

By Rachel Cohen / The Dallas Morning News

On a bad day for running, Sam Bernal said he had a good day. A very good day.

The Plano West senior distance specialist ran two personal-best times and posted two victories the second coming against the meet's toughest field in Saturday's 37th annual Jesuit-Sheaner Relays at Haggar Stadium.

High winds, cold temperatures and a wet track sent many competitors in the all-boys meet home before the running finals and slowed those who stayed. But not Bernal, who set a meet record by winning the Class 5A division's 3,200 meters in 9 minutes, 31.68 seconds. Mesquite Poteet's Scott Moore set the previous mark of 9:32.5 a year ago.

A couple of hours later, Bernal trimmed five seconds off his personal-best time in the 1,600, winning in 4:20.56.

That second victory was made more impressive by the competition it came against. Bernal outraced two of Texas' top milers, Mesquite's Amos Skinner and Canton's Ty Stanfield, and one of Oklahoma's finest, Plainview's Patrick McGuire.

"There were some awesome people out there," Bernal said. "Ty is incredible. Amos is amazing, too ... The guy from Plainview destroyed me in cross country."

Bernal held off Skinner at the finish, while Stanfield placed third and McGuire was fifth. Runner-up Chase Hall and third-place Ross Cohlmia, both from Jenks (Okla.), pushed Bernal in the 3,200 before Bernal won by less than four seconds.

"I just had a good day," Bernal said. "I don't think this makes me better than them. But now I know I belong on the same track as them. It makes me feel better."

Bernal's Plano West teammates took part in the CFB Relays in Carrollton on Friday, but the senior went to Jesuit instead because of the stiff competition.

Bernal might have fared better in the poor weather than his rivals, but he said he doesn't like it any more than them. While the cool temperatures were perfect for distance runners, the wind was anything but.

"This stinks," Bernal said. "It's miserable weather."

The 3,200 was supposed to be run first thing in the morning, but rain pushed the race back to early afternoon. Bernal went home, watched some television, then returned to Jesuit to post a couple of impressive wins.

Bernal was pleased with how he ran his races, which meant he didn't think too much on the track.

"For me, running smarter is being dumber," Bernal said.

Briefly...

The rain postponed many of the morning events and canceled half the running preliminaries. It had stopped raining by the afternoon's running finals, but many teams and many top competitors had left by then. In the Class 5A 110-meter hurdles, only one runner stuck around for the final. ... Of the teams that remained, Jenks won the 5A division and Jesuit the 4A.... Forney junior DaBryan Blanton won both the 4A 100 and 200.



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