Andrew Buemi had finished running about 90 seconds earlier.

He was breathing in almost completely normal fashion, like someone who had maybe walked 2 blocks and not run the metric equivalent of 2 miles.

Nothing like being in fantastic shape. Even during what amounts to vacation season, sportswise.

As the energetic Tom Kennedy, who coaches boys' track at Cardinal O'Hara High, put it yesterday, "Andrew doesn't need this. He's set for Fordham for swimming. He's here for us. He's that kind of kid."

Buemi competed in just one event in the Catholic League Track Championships at Widener University's surrounded-by-trees football stadium, where the air was thick with pollen and many folks were coughing and sneezing non-stop. He placed second, though, in the 3,200 with a time of 9 minutes, 53 seconds, and the points were appreciated because La Salle is always super strong in that event.

Appreciated, but not completely important, as things turned out.

O'Hara claimed the crown, its fifth in 7 years under Kennedy (Monsignor Bonner broke through in 2005 and '06), with 125 points. La Salle took second with 91, comfortably ahead of Father Judge (71) and Archbishop Ryan (69).

In swimming, Buemi earned All-Catholic honors three consecutive years in freestyle and individual medley events, along with two relays.

Oh, did we mention? Each winter, he competed in swimming and indoor track. And check out this demanding schedule: swimming practice at a Newtown Square facility from 5 to 6:45 a.m.; 2 hours of track practice right after school, then swimming practice again from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at Widener.

Homework?

"When I could fit it in," he said, laughing.

"I probably wouldn't have stuck with track if I didn't have such good chemistry with my teammates. That's why I stayed around. And because of our coach, of course. I also like setting goals for myself, and then achieving them.

"My swimming coach always wanted me to give up indoor track. But I told her I enjoyed it and wanted to keep making the commitment. I'll be getting back to all-swimming soon to get ready for Fordham, but this is good for my lungs and my legs."

Because he's a member of the CL's games committee, Kennedy was able to watch the proceedings from the infield. He took advantage by yelling non-stop words of encouragement to Buemi (and every O'Hara athlete).

When Buemi (pronounced bwemmy) was in fourth place after 5 laps, Kennedy pointed to the leader and bellowed, "You've got to take that seriously! That's a 9:49 [pace]!"

As the runners reached a point where maybe 300 meters remained, with Buemi in second, Kennedy was at it again: "You've got him! Right there! Go for it!"

The 5-9, 140-pound Buemi began to make his move and had what appeared to be a safe lead with maybe 35 meters remaining.

"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" Kennedy roared.

Um, no. La Salle's Steve Dorsey stormed past to take first in 9:52.43.

"Still a great job by Andrew," Kennedy said. "He's the kind of kid every team needs."

Said Buemi: "We went out kind of slow in the first mile, maybe 10 seconds slower than I normally would. I was trying to sit and then take the lead when the time was right.

"I heard everyone cheering toward the end. I didn't know if they were cheering for me or someone else. I kept going, but Dorsey passed me. Heartbreaking, but he ran a great race."

O'Hara's individual winners were Ed Buck in the 1,600 (4:22.97), Steve Werner in the long jump (21-4), Ian Clyburn in the discus (144-9) and Jason Johnson in the triple jump (46-1/2).

There were two double winners, Cardinal Dougherty's Charles Gladman in the 100 (11.02 seconds) and 200 (21.97), and West Catholic Jermaine Lowery in the hurdles (14.74, 110 highs and 53.58, 400 intermediates).

At Fordham, Buemi expects to concentrate on international relations and Spanish. He could picture working in business or for the United Nations.

Hey, why not both? Don't start slacking now, kid. *