German Fernandez returns to action for Cowboys
Oklahoma State All-American German Fernandez isn’t quite 100 percent yet. In his words, he’s about 98 percent. But he is back.
After skipping the first two races of the season — including the Cowboy Jamboree — Fernandez will make his first appearance this year at the Chili Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.
Fernandez has a few lingering minor injuries, but appears to be nearly healed after two months away from consistent running.
“I missed running and it made me think about all that stuff,” Fernandez said. “I’m happy now.”
Also returning for his first meet of the season is sixth-year senior Ryan Vail — arguably the most important runner for the Cowboys.
No. 2 Oklahoma State will have the whole team together for the first time this season on Saturday — only transfer Girma Merchesano will miss the meet.
“It’s definitely nice when you have German and Vail out there with you, too,” sophomore Colby Lowe said. “It makes it even easier. You have guys that are going to be with you, in the same situation with you and you aren’t out there all alone.”
The men’s race begins at 9:45 a.m. followed by the women’s race at 10:30 a.m.
Having its top two runners back, Oklahoma State’s depth improves, but it also balances out the responsibilities of the entire roster.
“It’s gotta take pressure off them,” OSU coach Dave Smith said. “All of a sudden its not up to two or three guys to carry us to a win. Everyone can run an average race and we can win easily.”
Oklahoma State changed up its training cycle last season and it paid off. The Cowboys used to run at NCAA Pre-Nationals, but they had a tendency to struggle there.
So Smith took the Cowboys to the Chili Pepper Invitational instead and OSU improved. Smith decided to keep the schedule the same this year.
“When you take a group of guys as good as this group is … it’s got to be fun,” Smith said.