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Fernandez, Schwartz masterful at divisional finals

NORWALK — Even though the Burbank High, Burroughs and Bellarmine-Jefferson track and field programs were only represented by one athlete apiece at the CIF Southern Section Divisional Track and Field Championships at Cerritos College, it would be hard to argue Saturday was anything but a success.

The Bulldogs’ Candela Fernandez and the Indians’ Matt Schwartz both earned advancement to the following week’s Masters Meet, while Guards junior London Webster picked up valuable experience for next season.

Maybe no area athlete is peaking more than Fernandez, who continued a prolific assault on her own school records.

Fernandez entered with a personal-best mark of 5 minutes flat in the 1,600-meter run and smashed that by taking seventh in the Division I championship in a new school-record time of 4 minutes, 57.59 seconds.

“This is so amazing and I’m just so glad that I’ve been trained to peak at the perfect time,” Fernandez said. “I’m so happy and I know I can do anything because I have coaches who believe in me.”

Fernandez kicked over the final 50 meters and passed up Segerstrom’s Stephanie Ortega (4:59.99) for what the sophomore anticipated would only translate into an additional spot in her final standings.

Yet, shortly after her race, Fernandez was informed, to her joy, that she had qualified to the Masters Meet after taking 10th overall, as racers in the middle- and long-distance runs needed to place in the top 12.

As for her final race, Fernandez again blasted her school record of 10:57.51 in the 3,200 with a new personal-best time of 10:49.60, which again merited her seventh in Division I.

Unfortunately for Fernandez, she likely won’t be participating in the event Friday as finished 14th overall and is listed as a second alternate.

“Honestly, this year was about breaking and setting school records,” Burbank Coach Darin Wolf said. “Next year will be about Masters and hopefully state. Anything today outside of a school record is a bonus.”

There was no new personal record Saturday for Schwartz, much to his chagrin.

Yet, the UC Berkeley-bound senior was consoled by the fact that he’ll have another chance at changing that after Schwartz finished fourth in Division I in the pole vault and ninth overall through all four divisions with a mark of 15 feet, 3 inches and advanced to the Masters Meet.

“I definitely wanted to do better,” Schwartz said. “I really wanted that 15-9. I’ve been jumping better as of late. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it, but I’m glad that I’m moving on.”

Schwartz rolled through 14-9 without a hiccup before hitting the bar on his first attempt at 15-3.

The senior rebounded and cleared 15-3, which put him just three inches shy of his personal best, which is currently the third-best mark in school history.

While Schwartz was hoping for some momentum going into his attempts at 15-9, the senior no-heighted on three tries and will have to wait another week to surpass Jon Switzer’s No. 2 mark of 15-7, set in 1976.

As for Webster, the junior entered with personal-best marks of 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 22.35 in the 200.

Webster finished sixth in the Division IV 100 with a mark of 11.20 and was again sixth in the 200 in 22.77.

“I was hoping to do a little bit better in the 200 because it’s a little bit longer, but it didn’t happen,” Webster said. “It’s an accomplishment to get here and I got some experience.”

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