June 21, 2008

Fernandez sets 2 more U.S. track records

In his final high school race, German Fernandez set two more national marks.

Fernandez smashed the nearly 30-year-old national record in the 2-mile run at the Nike Outdoor National Track and Field Championships in Greensboro, N.C., Friday night. And en route to the victory in the two-mile, he set the national record in the 3,000-meter run.

Fernandez, a recent graduate of Riverbank High, won the 2-mile race in 8 minutes, 34.40 seconds, nearly two seconds faster than the 8:36.3 run by Burbank's Jeff Nelson in 1979.

Fernandez also set the national record for the 3,000 when he crossed that line Friday night in 7:59.8. The old record in that distance was 8:03.57, set in 2004 by Galen Rupp (Portland, Ore.). Fernandez's time was very close to the goal he set before the race.

"I was looking at an 8:33, 8:34, right in there," Fernandez said Friday. "It was a good race."

Like every one of Fernandez's races this season, he dominated. He finished nearly 13 seconds ahead of the runner-up, Ogden, Utah's Luke Puskedra, an Oregon recruit.

Fernandez hit the first mile in 4:19, then had an impressive negative split with a 4:14 second mile. "The pace was a little slower in the first mile, but I got going after that," he said.

Last month, Fernandez set the national record in the 3,200 at the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College in Norwalk. That run of 8:34.23 was coupled with a victory in the 1,600-meter run in 4:00.29.

Fernandez, who will run for Oklahoma State next year, won the Gatorade Boys Track and Field Runner of the Year award Thursday. Friday's record-setting run places him as one of the favorites to win the national award.

While there was some speculation Fernandez would try to become the fifth high school runner to break four minutes in the mile race today, he said his season was over with Friday's run.

"I'm done; this is it," he said. "I'm ready for a vacation."

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