Brad Cantoral started running to stay in shape.
That’s not how it ended up working out.
Cantoral is a senior at Archbishop Ryan High School, and when he was a freshman, he was all about playing soccer. To make sure he was ready for the long season, he went out for the Raiders track team.
“I never did track. I did soccer, but my potential for track skyrocketed,” said Cantoral, who lives in Pennypack. “I did soccer freshman and sophomore year, I just did track as a secondary sport to maintain my fitness. I came to Ryan to play soccer, but when I did track, I realized I was good and my love for soccer fell off. Ever since, I was always working my butt off to get good at track, now I’m looking to compete at the college level.”
Cantoral has been working for the last three years to be a top runner in the Catholic League.
But he almost didn’t get a chance to compete this winter.
Cantoral was enjoying a strong indoor season, but about a month ago, he suffered a hip injury. It looked to end his indoor season before many of the big races.
“I actually took three weeks off, and the day of the (Catholic League championship) meet, I decided to see how I felt so I did the trials,” Cantoral said. “So I did them, and I felt totally fine, so I ran.
“I did it and I actually (set a personal record). It was from overusing the hip muscle, so I wasn’t sure I was even going to be able to run. It really took me by surprise. I talked with my coach and he said do whatever you feel, if you’re ready, go for it. But I never thought I would PR at all that day. I woke up thinking I wasn’t even going to run.”
Cantoral ran the 60-meter hurdles in 8.29 to win the race at the Philadelphia Catholic League Indoor Track and Field Championships at Philip Rauch Fieldhouse on the campus of Lehigh University.
Father Judge’s Momo Peters was named the meet’s Most Valuable Male Running Performer after winning the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter race.
On the girls side, the Ragdolls won three events. Paige Geiger won the pole vault, Anna Lombardi won the 800-meter race and the relay team of Chelsea Ritter, Lombardi, Cailey McCloskey and Natalie McFadden won the 4×800-meter relay.
Cantoral has been putting in work for this season since last year ended. He worked out hard at local tracks to stay in top shape, and during the fall, even though he’s not a distance guy, he ran for the Raiders cross country team.
When it gets cold, the Raiders have no problem finding a spot to work out, even if it’s pretty unconventional.
“We’re lucky that we have really big hallways, so after school, we just run up and down the hallways,” Cantoral said. “We set up the hurdles in the hall, just like a normal meet, set them up the normal distance apart and we practice in the hallways. We don’t have a track out back of the school, we have one at Calvary that’s about a mile away, but we don’t go there much in the winter because it’s too cold to run outside. We just practice in the school.”
Cantoral is looking to finish the indoor season strong.
After that, he’ll take a short break and go right into the spring season, where he runs the 300-meter hurdles, the 400-meter race and the 110-meter hurdles.
A strong finish to the indoor season only increases his expectations for the outdoor season. He believes this year will be a good one.
“I’m very excited for outdoor just to see what I can do, especially for 110 hurdles,” Cantoral said. “I especially want to see what I can PR in. Last year I went to states for the 300, I really want to go for the 110. I want to qualify for anything I can, and I’d like to set a lot of new PRs.
“I would say outdoor is a little more fun because indoor mostly prepares you for outdoor. I take both very seriously, but in outdoor, there’s a little more intensity. It’s a better atmosphere, more fans, and that makes it fun.”
Beyond the spring, Cantoral is looking forward to heading to Monmouth University, where he got a nice package due to his running and his good grades. In the classroom, Cantoral is an honor student and takes advanced-placement classes.
“I picked Monmouth University for track and academics,” Cantoral said. “It’s a beautiful campus, they have a great coaching staff and I love the small campus. The beach is a mile away, it’s a wonderful school.
“I’m looking to major in business. Made that decision recently. To be honest, I’m up in the air with it, I might change it. I’m not focused on a major yet, I picked one and hope I’m interested in. It’s a vast major, there’s a lot to pick from, so I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”
For now, he’s just happy to be healthy and ready to go.
“This year has been great,” Cantoral said. “Our coaches do a great job of keeping us on the right track to succeed. We’re focusing on outdoor now because indoor is pretty much over for most of us. We’re resting and we’ll pick it back up in a few weeks.”