Efrain Hernandez had watched his brother, Hector, compete against top competition at Texas A&M this past year with wide eyes until one day late in the season it hit him.
“I started noticing that those guys are running almost the same as I’m running,” Hernandez said.
Next year, Hernandez won’t have to compare times.
After ending his Ellison career with a personal record and a third-place finish in the 800 at state, Hernandez will get to live out his dream of joining his brother at A&M, the defending SEC champion, after his commitment became official following the season.
The state meet, in fact, was the first race that the A&M staff got to see him run in person.
Hernandez had spent his entire season building up to that moment, the chance to win a state title like his brother did in 2012, then had to deal with the added pressure of running in front of the staff he hoped to run for next year.
But Hernandez, ultimately, was able to keep his poise.
“I just thought about everything that I had done throughout the year, same race, and that’s how I kind of calmed myself down,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez didn’t win state, but he did medal with a personal-best time of 1:52.27.
For him, that was more than enough closure in his last high school race.
“The place doesn’t really matter,” Hernandez said. “It’s just the race and what I had to do — the PR.
“So it was my best race, and I had no regret.”
It also helps that his last high school race won’t be his last race ever.
Hernandez, in fact, called his race at state the beginning.
“It makes it all worth it, going through four years of high school and knowing that I ended it in state with a medal and a place up there,” Hernandez said. “And it’s not really the end. It’s the beginning to a whole new level, to a whole new expectation and career.”
That career will see Efrain and Hector run for the same team, an opportunity that evaded them at Ellison.
Efrain said his father, Efren — who also ran the 800 — was the most excited to hear that.
But he was also excited because Efrain, like his brother, now has the chance to run at the next level and, potentially, at the highest level one day.
“He’s always encouraged us to keep on running, and he wanted me to go to college and run,” Efrain said.
“He wants me to go professional after college, too.
“He knows that I’m not done, and I know I’m not done.”