Going the extra mile

Freshman cross country runner Ishmael Fernandez makes strides in both athletics and academics

Denise White

At only 19 years old, Ishmael Fernandez is no ordinary student athlete at City College. Fernandez is currently a freshman cross-country runner who balances practice, working part-time and classes, taking an astonishing 22 units.

Not only is Fernandez a busy student, he is also a successful cross-country runner after only starting in the summer.

“He’s never ran before, he started in June and he was a pitcher at Hoover High School. He’s just a very talented athlete,” Head Coach Peter Gregory said.

On Nov. 6, Fernandez was one of the only runners representing City College to make it to the Southern California Regionals at Tecolote Shores. The SoCal Regionals is one of the most important races, as the finalists will make it to the State Finals in Fresno.

“The first race he ever ran, Road Race, he finished in the top three and I knew back then in August that he had a lot of potential,” Gregory remarked. “He was battling injuries with his calf throughout the season but he stayed very steadfast. He always finished in the top 50 percent and this is one of the toughest JC meets in the country.”

Fernandez unfortunately didn’t make it to the State Finals but he was happy with his results with how he finished, seeing that he’s only trained for six months.

“I think I went out pretty strong. My first miles were right on point,” Fernandez explained. “I was a little bit fatigued near the end but I finished strong. I felt really strong at the end so I’m happy with my results.”

Gregory was really proud of the way Fernandez finished the season and wants to bring him back for another year.

“He really wants to transfer to SDSU but I think we’re going to try to keep him for another year if we can,” Gregory said.

Fernandez on the other hand, isn’t quite so sure himself.

“Running one more year here is an option but I’m really focused on trying to finish my education as fast as I can,” Fernandez explained.

Even as a successful runner, Fernandez has already set his eyes on his ultimate goal of becoming an editor.

“I’m trying to get my doctorate in English,” Fernandez said. “I want to go as far as I can. But it’s not only going to be English. I want to get an emphasis in something else.”

With dreams of getting his doctorate, Fernandez is trying to get as much school done as possible while taking 22 units this semester. On top of taking an abnormal amount of units and being an athlete, Fernandez is also involved with his church.

“I’m a full time student, I take 22 units right now. And I go to church and I’m in the band at church. I play the saxophone and the guitar over there,” Fernandez said.

It takes a lot to be able to balance all these commitments at such a young age and it’s pretty obvious to Gregory that he’s worth keeping around.

“He’s very dedicated, committed and gets very focused. He’s like a coach’s dream,” Gregory exclaimed. “If we had seven of those guys we’d be winning state.”

When Fernandez has time off, if he ever does, he mentioned that he liked to go fishing in order to help him relax. As far as his parents go, they’re glad that their son is focused on school and gets to run cross-country while he can.

“My parents like that I’m doing something,” Fernandez mentioned. “They like that I keep myself busy with the little break from school.”