Grant Fisher and Anna Rohrer won their second Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Fisher was the third consecutive boys runner to win back-to-back national titles, joining Edward Cheserek in 2011 and 2012 and Lukas Verzbicas in 2009 and 2010. Rohrer missed last season’s race due to broken navicular bones in her feet, but she came back from injury to repeat her 2012 performance as the women’s winner. The only girls winner to win two Footlocker nationals in non-consecutive years is Jordan Hasay.
Fisher, a senior from Grand Blanc, Mich., won in 15 minutes and three seconds over the 5K course. It was his 29th cross country win in a row against high school competition. Olin Hacker of Madison West (Madison, Wis.) was second in 15:12. He is headed to Stanford next fall.
Rohrer, a senior from Mishawaka (Ind.) won the girls race in 17:13. Ryen Frazier of Ravenscroft (Raleigh) was second in 17:23. Rohrer pulled away on a hill with a burst of speed over the final half mile, winning by 65 yards.
“I made a couple of moves, just a few surges, earlier in the race, but I knew the last hill was really going to make or break the race. I used the top of the hill to stride out and open up a bit. I knew we were all hurting at that point, but that’s the way I’ve trained with a lot of strength work.”
Rohrer won the 2012 race in 17:24, despite falling early in the race. She ran well last spring, setting a state record in the 3,200 in 10:14.43, but had stress fractures at the beginning of the cross country season. However, she steadily improved her times over the past two months, culminating in Saturday’s victory.
“It’s a lot more special because of what I’ve been through,” Rohrer said. “At the end, I was remembering what it was like two years ago, I was remembering that this was my last high school race and I really wanted to do well.”
Fisher had been a two-sport athlete until this year, playing varsity soccer and cross country. However, after three years of varsity soccer, he quit the sport to concentrate on cross country this year.
In Saturday’s race, he stayed close to the lead pack the entire race before pulling away on the final downhill with 600 meters to go.
“The first half of the race, I wanted to stay near the front and really keep an eye on everybody in the race,” Fisher said. “I wanted to make sure I knew what they were doing. By the first loop, I had a gauge on what everyone else was doing. The second loop, I wanted to stay in a good position to strike. Something that I have found to be a strength is going on the downhill and the flats. Last year, I wasn’t super prepared for the last hill, but my coach worked with me on that in my training and it definitely paid off today. I was able to get up the hill and by the time I got to the top, I had something left to change gears.”
Besides being two-time winners, Fisher and Rohrer were coming out of the Midwest Regional.
“I think a lot of times, the Midwest doesn’t get the same type of hype,” Fisher said. “We have been racing all year in pretty tough conditions. You don’t get that perfect day to run a record time, but it does make you tough. Then, when you get out here, it’s hard not to run your best. You’re so excited to be in the sunshine.”