For the past 30 years, Gatorade has honored the nation’s most elite high school athletes for their athletic excellence, academic achievement and exemplary character with theGatorade Player of the Year award. On July 14, the 12 Gatorade National Players of the Year from the 2014-15 season will gather in Hollywood, where the 13th annual GatoradeHigh School Athlete of the Year award will be presented to the best overall male and female athlete. Abby Wambach, J.J. Watt, Draymond Green and other star athletes are expected to be on hand.
In the days leading to the presentation, USA TODAY High School Sports will profile each of the 12 candidates — six boys and six girls.
Repeating as national champion by extending his unbeaten streak to two years surely left Grand Blanc High (Grand Blanc, Mich.) senior Grant Fisher with the expectation he would claim Gatorade National Runner of the Year honors for a second time. But the humility and awe he displayed when that news became official in January suggested otherwise.
“I’m so honored to be holding this trophy,” said Fisher, 17, a Stanford signee. “So many people have sacrificed so much for this to happen. I know it’s just my name on the trophy, but really it should be everyone who’s helped and encouraged and supported me over the years. That’s something I can never repay. I’m grateful for them and I’m grateful for this award.”
The 5-foot-10, 135-pound Fisher, who also won the award as a junior, raced to his second straight national title this past season with a time of 15:03 at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. He also won the Division 1 state title, clocking a 14:52.5, and concluded his prep career undefeated in cross country for two consecutive years.
Fisher has maintained a 4.11 GPA in the classroom. A peer tutor in his school, he has volunteered locally on behalf of a winter coat drive and youth sports programs in addition to donating his time as part of an effort to renovate the Grand Blanc High athletics concession stand.
“While Grant’s pristine ledger was wholly impressive on its face, his superiority was most apparent when unleashing a decisive move during the biggest races,” said Rich Gonzalez of Track & Field News. “He was content to run with the pack for much of the way, but when it came time to ‘go’, a simple surge or two convincingly separated him from the rest of the nation’s best. He had another gear, which he was rarely forced to use, but when he did, the outcome proved lethal. Rarely have we seen a prep control top competition with such relative ease.”
This past fall, Fisher broke the tape at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional championships in 15:00 and posted wins at the Portage Invitational, the Jackson Invitational, the KLAA Lakes Conference championships and the Region 2 championships. He was also undefeated throughout the 2014 indoor and outdoor track prep campaigns, including wins in the adidas Dream Mile and the two-mile run at the prestigious, national Brooks PR Invitational. Fisher qualified for and competed at last summer’s IAAF World Junior Championships in the 1,500-meter run.