Rodriguez, Hernandez and sophomore workhorse Ray Vasquez will represent Glendale College today and Saturday at the California Community Colleges Commission on Athletics Track and Field Championships at Bakersfield College.
Rodriguez's and Hernandez's appearance at the state meet was a bit surprising, they said, considering they just graduated high school last year.
"It's an honor," said Rodriguez, who, like Hernandez, will compete in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase.
Added Hernandez: "We were both injured at the beginning of the year, so it means a lot to get this far."
Hernandez, Rodriguez and Vasquez earned a berth to the state meet with their performance last week at the Southern California Championships.
Hernandez finished fourth in the steeplechase in 11 minutes 58.9 seconds, and Rodriguez was sixth in 12:17.7.
Entering Saturday's race, Hernandez has the fourth-fastest qualifying mark and Rodriguez is seventh. Lopez said the goal for his athletes is to finish in the top six to earn All-America honors.
"Because of the heat, we'll be running for place and not time," Lopez said.
Hernandez and Rodriguez are just the latest Vaquero steeplechasers to make it to state.
Under the guidance of Lopez, Glendale College has produced three male state champions, one female and another runner-up since 1995.
"It's the event I've been most successful in," Lopez said.
Although Vasquez won't be running the steeplechase, he figures to be the most successful Vaquero over the weekend.
The sophomore out of Belmont High will be doubling in the 1,500 and 5,000, a grueling test for any runner.
"He's got unbelievable stamina," Lopez said. "To run both in the same day at the times he's running them is remarkable."
Vasquez qualified in the 1,500 with a 3:59.58, which makes him the sixth-fastest qualifier. East L.A. College's Oscar Ogwaro leads the way with a 3:57.88.
Vasquez also has the sixth-fastest time in the 5,000 with 15:17.76.
Both races, like the women's steeplechase, will be held Saturday.
"My goal is to win the 1,500 and place well in the 5,000," said Vasquez, who was named the college's male athlete of the year.