Grand Blanc High (Grand Blanc, Mich.) junior distance talent Grant Fisher was today named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year. The 5-foot-8, 135-pound junior raced to the national title this past season with a time of 15:07 at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. Better known as a track talent entering the season, he won a state title in the outdoor 3200 last spring and finished ninth in the 1500 final at last summer’s World Youth Championships in Ukraine. Fisher split time with the Grand Blanc soccer team last fall, leading the Bobcats to a 17-1-3 record. He’s rated a four-star recruit by Top Drawer Soccer.
We sat down with Fisher to better understand how he outshined more than 250,000 high school distance runners nationwide to win the award.
Q: You went from the World Youth Championships in July to soccer preseason in August, then fought through an ankle injury and simultaneously played catch-up with your distance training. How do you even try to taper to a peak with all that activity?
A: I was lucky enough to spend time in Canada visiting family and then relaxing in the Bahamas for a couple weeks (after Worlds). My fitness fell off a lot, but it really helped me to start clean. All my coaches were flexible about me coming back slow. I think that’s what enabled me to time my peak.
Q: You’ve credited one of your coaches, Mike Scannell, with some of your success; in part because he participates in training runs. Is there something to a ‘do-what-I-do and not just what I say’ approach that carries more weight with a distance runner?
A: I think so. When he assigns the workouts and he’s actually running with you, it’s pretty cool. It enables him to stay in tune with me. He’s right there, so he can assess. Whether to taper or ramp up. I take it for granted, but it’s an advantage.
Q: As a sophomore, you had to choose between a soccer state final and the XC state title race (ultimately choosing soccer). Are you able to feel like one of the guys when competing for two varsity teams?
A: Both teams are pretty understanding about the conflicts. Neither gives me a hard time. Everyone is used to it by now. I’m lucky.
Q: No one in the history of the program has ever won Gatorade State XC and Gatorade State Soccer awards. Are you going to be the first?
A: Maybe, but I’m not going to get my hopes up. Given what you just said, I think the chances are pretty slim.
Q: Grand Blanc cross country stages a preseason camping trip kick off training. Word is, there was a raccoon invasion this year. Be honest, did you run when you saw them?
A: Well, in truth, we were watching a movie when they ran in. We all jumped on picnic tables. Eventually, we jumped down and we realized that in so doing, they all ran.
Q: You PR’d (with a 3:50.3) in beating an international field and winning your heat to qualify for the 1500-meter final at the 2013 World Youth Championships? Where do you see yourself at the next level? As a 5K and 10K guy, or as more of a miler?
A: Going into cross country season, I definitely thought of myself as a track guy. I always preferred track since it was shorter distances. But I’m enjoying it more and more now. It’s now just as important to me as track. I like 5K. Where I’ll end up? We’ll see.
Q: Given your stated preference to race in “sunny, warm weather,” can we infer a desirable collegiate destination (in 2015) from that yet?
A: Maybe. The thing is you have to go pretty far from home if home is Michigan to get that kind of weather. I may need more balance.
Q: July 22 is the date that 1500-meter heats begin at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Eugene, Ore. Is that date circled on your calendar in pencil or pen at this point?
A: Right now, it’s in pen. I’ve talked it over with my coaches and that’s what we’re going to peak for. It’s going to be tough to stay in form for such a long window after the state meet (in May), but I’m excited to try.