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 today suggested otherwise.
“I’m so honored to be holding this trophy,” said Fisher, 17, a Stanford commit. “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. Three-time U.S. Olympian and Michigan native Dathan Ritzenhein presented the teen with the award.
“I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to see Grant win this thing for a second time,” said Ritzenhein, 32, the former American record-holder in the 5,000-meter run, who twice earned Gatorade Michigan Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year honors from 1999-01. “He’s got extraordinary potential and he has a real chance to become one of the best runners in the world.”
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.
The Gatorade Player of the Year award recognizes outstanding athletic excellence as well as high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the racecourse. Fisher is now a finalist for the Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year award. USA TODAY High School Sports administrates the nationwide selection process in collaboration with Gatorade.
Fisher remains the only boys cross country talent from Michigan to win national Gatorade honors. He is one of eight past national winners from the state across all sports throughout the award’s 30-year history, including former NBA star Chris Webber (Detroit Country Day, Birmingham), who won in 1991, former NFL quarterback and MLB infielder Drew Henson (Brighton), the 1998 winner in baseball, and MLS midfielder Eric Alexander (Portage Central), who won in 2006. Fisher is the 10th prep athlete to repeat as a Gatorade national winner, joining an alumni subset that includes LeBron James, WNBA star Candice Parker and track phenomenon Marion Jones.
California—with 62— has produced the most Gatorade national winners across the program’s 12 sports, followed by Texas (29), Florida (20), Illinois (15), Indiana (12) and Virginia (11).