The Division 1 girls run the 2014 Lower Peninsula Cross Country Championship on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
BROOKLYN – Grant Fisher looked out the window when he awoke Saturday morning and saw a sign that meant any kind of an assault on a record time at the state championship cross-country meet was out of the question.
“There was snow on the ground,” Fisher said incredulously, “so that’s a shock.”
Conditions didn’t improve as he drove to Michigan International Speedway.
“You could feel the car moving from side to side, and you could see flags blowing everywhere,” he said. “It wasn’t like I got on the start line and realized the wind was going to be a factor. But the wind was there for everybody.”
Yes, but it especially was there for Fisher, the state’s defending Division 1 champ from Grand Blanc, whose name has been inserted into the same sentence as Dathan Ritzenhein, the greatest runner in state history who owns the state record (14:10.4).
But on this day, Fisher, a senior, had another competitor in the field — the wind.
It came into play after Fisher made his first move a mile into the race.
“The wind was kind of eating me up on the second mile,” he said. “There’s a bit of a stretch where you go straight into it. The race plan was to attack the second mile, so I attacked it. We didn’t know what it was going to be like, so the attack of the wind was tougher than what we expected.”
The wind might have been tough, but Fisher was tougher. He extended his lead, and when he hit the 2-mile mark, a perfect spot to glance back at the field, he didn’t see anyone.
“There’s about 600 meters of downhill after the 2 mile,” he said. “I was going to relax through there and then try to go a bit harder on the stretch once you’re inside the stadium. If someone was right on my heels on that turnaround, I would have ditched the race plan and gone into race mode and hammered again at that point.”
The interesting aspect of Fisher’s preparation is that his race plans are never time-oriented. His goal is to win the race and let the time take care of itself.
That is why he was thrilled with his 14:52.5, the third-fastest time in state history and quite an accomplishment considering the gale-force wind.
“Dipping under 15 is always special, and I’ve only done it one other time than today,” Fisher said. “So I’m still pretty new to it, so it’s not like if I hadn’t gone under 15 it would have been a huge disappointment.”
Fisher’s win enabled Grand Blanc to finish ninth in the team competition, won by Rockford, which edged second-place White Lake Lakeland and third-place Waterford Mott.
In a few weeks, Fisher will be off to Kenosha, Wis., to try to qualify for the Foot Locker national championship, which he won last year.
But while he is looking ahead to the Foot Locker, Fisher was able to reflect on what winning his second state title at MIS means to him.
“You can look back, as everyone has recently, at some of the fast times people have run here, and you see some big names that have gone on to do some pretty incredible things,” he said. “So to do it on this course, with so much history and to do it with my team next to me, means a lot.”
As far as previous winners who have gone on to do some pretty incredible things, one day Fisher is going to be one of those guys, too.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.