In Play with Tom Markowski

Grant Fisher ignores wet conditions, sets state record in 1,600 run and adds 3,200 title at boys track finals

Track and Field   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

 

Rockford – Weather conditions for the state track and field finals in the Grand Rapids area were less than ideal. Temperatures hovered in the mid-60s for much of the day on Saturday then began to fall as the afternoon progressed. The rain never stopped at Rockford High School, the site of the Division 1 finals, but let up to a light drizzle at times.

Robie Webster of Ypsilanti Lincoln, who won the 110 hurdles with a time of 14 seconds, summed it up in a rather crude manner, but succinctly.

“It sucks,” he said.

To some junk can be a treasure. And for Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc conditions could not have been better.

Fisher firmly established himself as one of the state’s top distance runners of all time as he shattered the state record for the 1,600 run with a personal-best time of 4:00.28.    

The previous record was held by another Grand Blanc runner, Omar Kaddurah, who ran 4:07.67 in 2010.

Timed out to a mile (1,609 meters), Fisher ran 4:01.6.

Fisher also won the 1,600 run last year with a time of 4:10.82.

What makes Fisher’s accomplishment so remarkable is that fact that his nearest competitor, Logan Wetzel (4:08.04) of Saline, was well back forcing Fisher to run alone.

“Today was a great day to run,” Fisher said. “It’s tough (to run alone). I just really ran fast. It’s tough to close out a lap with no one around. I’m really happy. We got a bit of a break in the weather today. They were calling for thunderstorms.

“I knew I was in shape today. This is kind of a tune-up for me.”

The 1,600 also served as a tune-up for Fisher’s second race, the 3,200, which he won with a time of 8:53.41. It was a race that held more drama, at least for the large crowd that filled Rockford’s fine football-track facility.

Ryan Robinson of Waterford Mott set the pace and Fisher was on his heels drafting as the crowd cheered the two runners who had separated themselves from the pack. Fisher made his move with 220 meters and finished with a kick rarely seen in this race.

“I really felt good,” Fisher said. “It was tough on Ryan. Into the wind, it helped me tremendously.”     

Robinson, who won this same event at the Oakland County championships last week, placed second with a time of 9:00.65.

Fisher won the Division 1 cross country championship the past two seasons and won both the 1,600 and 3,200 runs last year. He also won the last two National Footlocker championships held in San Diego. He was named high school male athlete of the year by the Detroit Athletic Club and he signed with Stanford.

“I’ve come a long way,” Fisher said. “For the majority of the season the kick wasn’t there. I took a look behind me to see where they were at. I wanted to make sure. I don’t like to do that.”

Fisher learned. In 2013 in the 1,600 he led most of the way until he was caught by T. J. Carey of Lake Orion. Carey won with a time of 4:15.763. Fisher was second with a time of 4:15.769.

Runners like cool weather. If temperatures get into the 80s as it did last year fatigue sets in and the athletes develop cramps or worse.

Even so, by the time the final few events (200, 3,200 and the 1,600 relay) were run the wind picked up and temperatures dropped creating difficult conditions.

 

The winners

 

The girls team from Oak Park won its second consecutive title with 93 points. East Kentwood finished second with 54.5 points, Northville was third with 43, Rockford placed fourth with 42 points and Ann Arbor Pioneer was fifth with 37.

Oak Park won all four relays. The Knights had a mix of experience, some new faces with youth.

Even though Anna Jefferson was upset by Sammy Cuneo of Rockford in the 400, Jefferson ran on the winning 400 and 800 relay teams to help her team take home the trophy.

Ersula Farrow, a transfer from Grosse Pointe South, successfully defended her title in the 800 with a time of 2:08.43. Her teammate, freshman Dorriann Coleman (2:11.44), placed second.

Farrow said the move to Oak Park was beneficial. She said her new teammates helped push her to become a better runner.

“Oak Park is tougher,” she said. “Tougher as in teammates. I have no regrets.”

Farrow will attend Clemson in the fall.

 

Saline won its first boys title since 2006 as the Hornets finished with 71 points. East Kentwood, which had won five of the previous six, was second with 52½ points, Monroe was next with 36, Ypsilanti Lincoln placed fourth with 27 and Grand Blanc took fifth with 26.

Coach Al Leslie said this team was built on depth. There were 200 in the boys program last year. This year there’s 165.

A case in point was the final race, the 1,600 relay. Skyler Bowden took the baton as the anchor and was in second place 15 meters behind. Bowden passed his competitor from Walled Lake Western on the final turn and Saline cemented its title with a victory with a time of 3:22.91.

“Our relays were great,” Leslie said. “We try to pull off the best athletes from the other programs to come out. We were fortunate to pull three kids off of the football team to compete for the first time this year.”

It helps when you’re the defensive line coach, right Leslie?