After breaking a fifth indoor track record, senior middle-distance runner Millie Howard believes she can qualify for the NCAA National Indoor Championship in the mile.
Howard ran a time of 4 minutes, 36.37 seconds, breaking Blanca Fernandez’s previous record of 4:40.60 set in 2015.
Fernandez graduated from Temple University in 2016. She set six program records and was Temple’s first cross country All-American.
“Those records had been sitting up there for a while, and [Fernandez] will be the first one to tell you, ‘Records are meant to be broken,’” said assistant track and field coach James Snyder, who is also the cross country coach.
Howard, who is from North Yorkshire, England, has broken six outdoor program records and five indoor records in her collegiate career. Two of those records were held by Fernandez.
Howard was also the only Temple athlete to earn a medal at the American Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in her freshman year.
Track and field coach Elvis Forde always knew Howard had the skillset to be like Fernandez, but her “perfectionist” mindset got in the way, he said.
“[Howard] has the same qualities as [Fernandez], but the results haven’t always been there,” Forde said.
However, he is starting to see those results, he added.
It took some time for Howard to transition to the different lifestyle of the United States compared to England, she said.
“It’s difficult coming from a really small town in England where I was a big fish in a little pond,” Howard said. “Coming out here’s definitely been like a smaller version of that pond and sometimes that got in the way of things, but I’m glad that confidence has come finally.”
Part of Howard’s new-found confidence can be attributed to the 2019 cross country season. She earned All-Region honors and finished 22nd at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional with a time of 20:46 in the 6,000 meter.
“I had the attitude of, ‘It’s my last go around, might as well just go for it,’” Howard said. “It really worked for me, and I had my best cross country season, so I went into track season with that mindset. I’ve got nothing to lose. It’s my best shot, and that’s really helped me.”
Snyder has trained Howard year-round during her four seasons.
“A lot of her success during the current indoor season is a product of the most successful fall that she’s ever had,” Snyder said. “All that allowed her to be able to springboard into the indoor season a little bit further ahead of where we’ve been in years past.”
Howard has yet to qualify for Nationals, but breaking the mile record was the moment she knew she belonged with the country’s best, she said.
“Recruiting her out of high school, we knew she was certainly capable of achieving great things,” Snyder said. “To be able to go through the progression and trajectory that she has is impressive. She has a great opportunity to finish her last year strong.”