- The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will have a Temple women's track & field athlete competing for the first time in 28 years, as Blanca Fernandez
is set to run in the 1,500m semifinal on Thursday. Fernandez broke her own school record in qualifying for the championships, running a time of 4:19.86 to place 11th overall at the NCAA East Preliminary on May 30.
"Sometimes you don't realize how important things like Blanca's success this past year are to a program," said Temple head coach Elvis Forde
, "but I've been around long enough to know. Its already brought some attention to us and our prospects see what she's doing and that makes a difference."
On June 11, Fernandez will run at 7:14 p.m. Eastern time (4:14 Pacific) in the women's 1,500m semifinal. The championships are being held at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., from June 10-13. If Fernandez advances to the final, she will race at 5:15 p.m. Eastern (2:15 Pacific) on Saturday, June 13.
"It's up to Blanca at this point," said Forde. "She's ready to compete at this level. She's mature enough and understands the challenge of being at the national championships. Will it be easy? Probably not, this is a world class field. We just wish her all the best and we're here to support her."
The entire competition will be broadcast on the ESPN Network. ESPNU is the channel to tune into on Thursday evening to see Fernandez compete in the semifinal, while ESPN2 will carry Saturday's final.
Fernandez has burst onto the national scene and shattered numerous school records since arriving at Temple for the spring semester. After competing for the Owls for just four and a half months, Fernandez now holds two indoor and three outdoor school records.
Her 1,500m outdoor record is more than 20 seconds better than the record before she arrived, while in the mile, her best time of 4:39.88 at the Penn Relays bested a 33-year record by more than 25 seconds.
"Blanca's semester has been a special one so far, and she'll have another opportunity this week to make a statement at the NCAA level," said distance coach James Snyder
. "Her experience at the indoor championships will serve her well this week as she looks to race her best and advance to Saturday's final. Blanca is an incredible competitor and continues to represent Temple well every time she laces up her spikes."
During the indoor season, Fernandez earned All-America Second Team honors for her 12th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships. She was also named the American Athletic Conference's Indoor Track Athlete of the Meet after winning both the mile and the 3,000m in conference-record times.Championship Central
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