by Jeff Hollobaugh
Allendale, Michigan, Feb. 13–The flashing signs above the freeways leading toward Allendale today read “WINTER STORM WARNING.” Weatherwise, most of the attendees at Grand Valley’s Big Meet knew what they were getting into. But for Grant Fisher, looking for what he and his coach called “a hard effort,” his initial foray into collegiate competition turned out to be stormier than he expected.
“I learned quite a bit,” said Fisher. “It’s a lot more physical on the college side.”
Running unattached in the invitational section of the mile, Fisher settled into fourth place in the early going, passing 440y in 61.1. The rabbit slowed the pace after that, and the field bunched somewhat before 880, which Fisher in third place hit in 2:04.6. Ricky Perez of Grand Valley took over the lead.
“They went through too slow,” said Mike Scannell, Fisher’s coach. “There were too many people up front.”
Fisher moved to second with 700m left, and appeared to be in great position for a final drive. At 1100m, the field started bunching again, and runners started moving on Fisher’s outside. Feeling himself falling into a box, Fisher accelerated quickly to the lead, and immediately let up on the gas, letting two others pass him before the corner, one on the inside, and one on the outside. Riley McInerny of Eastern illinois took over the lead.
Charging again on the turn, Fisher moved back to second despite some elbows and contact, hitting three-quarters in 3:07.9. Then, coming off the turn, he was clipped by Daniel Garcia of Cardinal Strich and nearly went sprawling on the track. “There was a bit of a move,” recounted Fisher. “A lot of people went to react to it–I went to react to it. I kind of got swiped from behind. I’ve never gone down in a race before, but I was pretty close today.”
By the time Fisher had recovered, he had been passed by four people. Sixth at the bell, he mounted his charge, but by then the lead was 15m away. He started passing people, but it wasn’t until the final stretch, after hitting 1500m in 3:50.6, that he made his way to third and it was clear he could get no closer to the front.
“I had a goal,” said Fisher, clearly a little frustrated with his experience. “I didn’t exactly meet the goal today. It wasn’t exactly a true measure of my fitness right now… I should have expected [the contact] a lot more than I did. I had hoped to be closer to the front with 200m to go.”
Scannell emphasized that the effort was not an effort at any sort of record. Rather it was for Fisher to get a hard run under his belt in his second race of the season. Apparently, his 4:07.29 on this same track two weeks earlier didn’t fit the bill.
The 4:06.72 clocking is an indoor best for Fisher, but doesn’t rate as a state record since it came on a 300m track. It is, for what it’s worth, the second-fastest high school time ever on an oversized track. The best is the 4:05.4 run by Dave Merrick of Illinois in 1971. Taking into account all track sizes, Fisher is now the No. 8 high school miler in U.S. history.
“It was definitely a learning experience,” concluded Fisher. “I’ve got to be ready for the little setbacks in races.”
Derrick Williams of Colorado State/Pueblo took the win on the strength of his final stretch sprint against McInerny. Behind Fisher, Wuoi Mach, a 4:23.43m runner at Grand Rapids Christian a few years ago, clocked 4:07.75 as a Grand Valley freshman.
In other notable marks, Katie Nageotte took the pole vault win over Kristen Hixson as both cleared 14-6.25. Cleary College coach Sarah Boyle blasted a 9:14.70 over 3000m. Grand Valley’s Amy Cymerman clocked 16:38.35 at 5000m. Central Mississippi frosh Erika Kinsey leaped 6-0.75. Shatora Lewis of Ashland threw the weight 70-1.75, topping the 67-6 of Bowling Green’s Brooke Pleger.
East Kentwood grad Tori Brooks (the brother of shot star Tia Brooks), cleared a PR 7-2.5 in the high jump for Davenport. Meanwhile, Antonio James of Michigan State won the throws double at 61-2.75 SP and 72-0.75 Wt.
1 Williams, Derrick SO Csu-Pueblo 4:05.67 PROV 1 2 McInerney, Riley SO Eastern Illinois 4:05.93 PROV 1 3 Fisher, Grant SR Unattached 4:06.72 PROV 1 4 Hall, Nick JR Ashland 4:07.31 PROV 1 5 Garcia, Daniel SO Cardinal Stritch 4:07.73 PROV 1 6 Mach, Wuoi FR Grand Valley St. 4:07.75 PROV 1 7 Murphy, Robert SO Vincennes 4:09.39 PROV 2 8 Barnett, Chase FR Unattached 4:10.23 PROV 2 9 Askin, Aidan JR Illinois State 4:11.41 PROV 1 10 Tredway, Adam SR Central Missouri 4:11.90 PROV 2