well, i mean "one of the best" is kind of vague. i was thinking more like "top 3-5," so, necessarily, i would have pretty steep requirements. ritz had no national records, but his competitive record over the best HS competition since the 70s qualifies him. webb and ryun are both there because of a combination of the strength of their mile records, their qualify times at other distances, and their competitive record.
i don't think it's ridiculous to want to see Fernandez run a time comparable to Webb's/Ryun's to say he's in their league. as for competitive record, *someone* has to win nationals every season, and Fernandez has done that exactly once. the only thing that stands out as a potential "qualifier" for the top 3-5 of all time is this double, and i don't see doubles as being the same as records or titles.
if he had a better championship record, the 8:34 might do it for me, but in the absence of that, yes i would say that it would take an 8:30 2mi or better to be in the same league as Ritz, Ryun, and Webb.
Well if we're just talking about the 2-mile then he's undoubtedly one of the top-5 of all time. If we're talking about distance runners in general it's a little tougher. You originally defined one of the best as top 5-10. Top 3 I agree with you, he'll need to do something absolutely astounding for that, but do you really think last night isn't enough to make him one of top 10 distance runners of all time? Honestly national titles don't mean as much as times to me because they're entirely dependent on the quality of the field. I don't see why you need a national record to be considered ONE of the best of all time either. And you keep getting hung up on the fact that this is a double. Just forget about that. Just taking the times as they are is enough to put him in the running for top 5 all time. The fact that both were for the most part solo and the 3200 wasn't run fresh makes them even more impressive. To put this on the same level as a workout is absurd