Blanca Fernandez said her head had a work out Saturday during the American Athletic Conference Championships.
With the finish line appraoching, the senior ran away from Connecticut’s Emily Durgin on her way to claiming the The American Championship, the first in school history and her fifth consecutive victory of 2015.
“In the last 400 meters, I felt strong enough to go for it, so I did,” Fernandez said. “When I looked back, [Durgin] wasn’t close to me, and I thought, ‘I can win this race.’”
In the 6K race, Fernandez set a school record with a time of 20 minutes, 6 seconds, which was five seconds ahead of Durgin’s second place finish.
“If you are able to control your thoughts, you already have half the work done,” Fernandez said. “You might think, ‘I am tired, but she is tired, too,’ so you keep going.”
The win Saturday was the fourth title Fernandez has won while at Temple. She previously won two indoor track and field titles and one outdoor track and field championship.
“I was kind of afraid of what was going to happen, and I was kind of tired,” Fernandez said. “By the first mile, my legs were telling me something, and it was just the first mile.”
Coming into the race, the senior was hesitant about her ability to perform, but coach James Snyder knew Fernandez would win the title.
“The biggest accomplishment of the day was Blanca winning the conference title,” Snyder said. “Honestly, I’m not surprised by it since she is incredibly successful, but still, it is not easy to win a race like this.”
Overall, Temple finished 10th out of 11 teams at the meet. The Owls were nine points behind ninth place Houston and 146 points behind team-champion Tulsa.
“It was a little disheartening because we had an opportunity, and we didn’t take advantage of it,” Snyder said. “The biggest piece was the girls not stepping up when they could’ve ,and it really showed the inexperience of the team.”
The Owls second-best finisher was sophomore Katie Pinson, who finished 25th in the 95 runner field. Her time of 21:46 was a personal best.
“[Pinson] had a really good day, and she is very steady and consistent throughout the season,” Snyder said.
Freshman Alexis O’Shea finished in 44th place, the only other Owl to finish inside the Top 50.
Freshman Katie Leisher and junior Megan Schneider finished in 69th and 71st, respectively.
Maura Razanauskas can be reached at email@example.com.