Grant Fisher wins the 2014 FL Nationals, photo by PhotoRun.net
This is Erik Boal’s piece on the Boys race at the 2014 Foot Locker Nationals. Erik wrote the women’s piece for RunBlogRun as well!
SAN DIEGO — Grant Fisher was prepared for the defense of his Foot Locker National Championship to come down to a finishing kick.
Then, the senior from Grand Blanc, Mich., made sure it wasn’t necessary.
After battling John Dressel from Mt. Spokane, Wash., stride for stride during an intense final 400 meters to win last year’s cross country title in San Diego, Fisher’s experience on the 5-kilometer course at Balboa Park’s Morley Field paid dividends late in Saturday’s race.
With eight athletes separated by less than a second with one mile remaining, Fisher decided it was time to break away from the pack at the top of the final hill and only junior Drew Hunter of Loudoun Valley High in Virginia even attempted to keep pace.
With each step, Fisher appeared to gain strength and the gap on Hunter and the rest of the field continued to expand on his way to repeating in 15 minutes, 2.1 seconds, becoming the fifth back-to-back boys champion in the meet’s 36-year history and the third in a row, following Lukas Verzbicas (2009-10) and Edward Cheserek (2011-12).
“There is a tree at the top of the hill and that’s right where you crest it. You turn left around the tree and that’s where I wanted to make my move. The pack broke up by the top of the hill and when I made my move, I was prepared if someone followed me,” said Fisher, who improved on last year’s winning time by four seconds.
“After I made my move I took a glance or two back. I didn’t want to sneak up on me and have anything crazy happen the last, maybe minute of the race. I wanted to monitor the guys that went for it and I was prepared when we crossed the street with about 200 to go, coming into the finish line, I was ready to throw down if someone was near me.
“I crossed the street and just gave it all I had, because this is my last cross country race as a high school guy, so it means so much to end things like this.”
Olin Hacker from Madison West in Wisconsin, who was runner-up Dec. 6 at Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon, rallied from eighth in the final mile to place second in 15:12, giving the Midwest region a sweep of the top two spots.
Tim Hacker, Olin’s father, placed ninth in 1979 and fourth in 1980 at the Kinney National Championships.
“I just have to thank my dad and my coach because they got me ready to peak at the right time, so it’s just awesome,” Olin Hacker said. “I was hurting a lot, but so was everybody else. I knew this it, this is the last cross country race of my high school career and I had to go after it.”
Elijah Armstrong of Pocatello, Idaho, who was sixth last year, improved to third in 15:13, leading another dominant performance by the West, which had seven runners earn All-America honors by placing in the top 15 to repeat as team champion with a 31-37 victory over the Midwest.
“We bring out the best in each other,” Armstrong said. “Being able to share it with someone, all we can do is make each other better. It’s just a huge honor to be with those guys on the West team and represent with them.”
Hunter finished fourth in 15:13.2, followed by fellow junior Austin Tamagno from Brea-Olinda in California taking fifth in 15:14.5. They were the only underclassmen to place in the top 12.
“Grant is amazing. He broke everybody at the top of the hill and kept surging and can run downhill better than anybody so that really helped,” Hunter said. “I tried to go with him, but he just flew down the hill and I didn’t have much left at that point.”
Dressel finished sixth in 15:17.2, followed by Trevor Reinhart of Marin Academy in California placing seventh in 15:18.7 and Conner Mantz from Sky View, Utah, in 10th in 15:26.2 for the victorious West team.
Jesse Reiser of McHenry West in Illinois helped support Fisher and Hacker by taking eighth in 15:19.2, but it wasn’t enough for the Midwest to offset the West region’s depth.
Northeast regional champion Alex Ostberg of Darien, Conn., the leader at the 2-mile mark, finished ninth in 15:21.1.
Boys results: http://finishedresults.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Boys-5k-FLCCC.pdf
Larry Eder has had a 50-year involvement in the sport of athletics. Larry has experienced the sport as an athlete, coach, magazine publisher, and now, journalist and blogger. His first article, on Don Bowden, America's first sub-4 minute miler, was published in RW in 1983. Larry has published several magazines on athletics, from American Athletics to the U.S. version of Spikes magazine. He currently manages the content and marketing development of the RunningNetwork, The Shoe Addicts, and RunBlogRun. Of RunBlogRun, his daily pilgrimage with the sport, Larry says: "I have to admit, I love traveling to far away meets, writing about the sport I love, and the athletes I respect, for my readers at runblogrun.com, the most of anything I have ever done, except, maybe running itself."
Theme song: Greg Allman, " I'm no Angel."
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