Sports

In pursuit of NCAA qualification, Fernandez shatters mile record

A month into her Temple career, Blanca Fernandez set a school record in the mile at the Alex Wilson Invitational.

Nearly a month after her first American collegiate track & field meet, graduate-junior Blanca Fernandez set a new Temple women’s track & field indoor mile record Saturday at the Alex Wilson Invitational at the University of Notre Dame.

Fernandez’s shattered the previous indoor mile record of 4 minutes, 58.18 seconds set by then-senior Anna Pavone last season with a new record time of 4:40.60. This comes just one week after Fernandez broke the Temple indoor 3,000-meter record at the Valentine Invite at Boston on Feb. 14.

The performance was also enough to award Fernandez third place in the event. Fernandez was the first collegiate runner to finish the race, placing behind professional runners Becca Addison and Nicole Sifuentes (Saucony).

Fernandez was the only Temple athlete who competed in the meet, accompanied by cross country coach James Snyder, who praised her on her hard work.

“She did a really good job today putting herself in a position to be successful,” Snyder said. “Anytime you come out to a race like this, you get a chance to run against the best teams in the country. You have to take advantage of that opportunity and she certainly did.”

Snyder said Fernandez’s participation in the meet was an attempt to improve her time in the mile to hopefully earn her an improved spot in the NCAA national rankings.

“Every year it’s kind of like a big last-chance meet to try and hit marks to advance to the NCAA Championship,” Snyder said. “We brought Blanca out with the intent of running as well as she can and hopefully have a position on the line in three weeks in [Fayetteville, Arkansas] for the [NCAA] national championship.”

The NCAA Championship only takes the best of the best in terms of track & field talent. Snyder said changes in the overall rankings could still allow Fernandez entry into the championship meet, but only time will tell.

“Right now she is sitting in the Top 25 in the country in both the mile run and the 3,000-meter run,” Snyder said. “Only the Top 16 make it to nationals, so hopefully there is some moving and shaking, and not everybody will run both races.”

Owls head coach Elvis Forde also said he was satisfied by Fernandez’s performance, and that now it is just a matter of waiting out the next few weeks until the qualifiers are announced.

“I think Blanca is willing to do the hard work that is involved in becoming a good athlete,” Forde said. “Now it’s mostly about now sitting back and waiting on the teams chosen. Her chances are very good of getting in there in one of the two events she is in.”

The team will travel to New York for the American Athletic Conference championship meet Feb. 27-28. The meet, which will take place at The Armory, will allow Fernandez one last chance to improve her standing in the NCAA national rankings for potential qualification for the NCAA championship meet in March.

Tyler DeVice can be reached at tyler.device@temple.edu.

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