MLive High School Sports
Sports Desk Reporter
I love sports. I enjoy writing. It’s a good pairing on paper, and if I had my druthers, I’d always pen stories like these:
BROOKLYN — There’s an old folktale known to most as the ‘North Wind and the Sun’, and make no mistake, the former was a player that made its presence known at Saturday’s Division 1 boys cross country state finals run at the Michigan International Speedway on Saturday.
Although when Aesop added the fable to his collection, he couldn’t have known the story would be adopted centuries later by repeat state champion and cross country runner extraordinaire, Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc, as his own.
And so the story goes:
The North Wind and the Sun argued over who was strong above the MIS, when around the bend of the second mile came charging young man — lets call him Fisher — draped in a singlet, shorts and spikes. A quick glance back over his shoulder was all that he needed to assure himself he had the space between himself and the rest of the field requisite to complete his race design before he pressed on.
“My race plan was not time orientated at all, but rather section orientated,” Fisher said. “I wanted to cruise through the first mile, and attack the second mile, but when I did, the wind attacked me right back.
“When I woke up this morning and saw snow on the ground or as the car shook from the wind on the drive over, well it wasn’t a surprise on the starting line that not every day is going to be 75-degrees and sunny, but the course conditions are never ideal. You have to fight strong still because that’s how you create opportunities to run a perfect race.”
As Fisher extended his lead and hammered the third and final mile of the course, the North Wind picked up its effort as well, taunting the sun that he was the force of nature that could make the young man slow his gait. But even as the North Wind blew and blew, the young man wouldn’t relent.
Not one stride. In fact, as the Sun peaked its way out from behind the clouds, what’s become a familiar phenomena to cross country fans across the country reoccurred — Fisher sped up.
“I’ve talked to a lot of runners, and they all say winning the second time’s harder,” Fisher said. “Last year, the title was up for anyone to grab, but this year, expectations were different.
“I still like to think that I’m an underdog, and act like no one’s out to get me. That I’m out to prove something, but realistically, that’s not the case and probably won’t be for the rest of my high school career.
“That’s why I set expectation for myself, and don’t let other people dictate them for me. Why when I had executed my plan and felt great doing it, I kicked it in down the stretch.”
Fisher crossed the finish line first with a time of 14:52.5 — it was the second time in his career that he’s eclipsed the 15-minute barrier — but what happened next might have impressed the Sun even more.
Despite running like the wind against the wind in the race, Fisher finished looking as if he had just come in from a leisurely jog. He was the first one to help up exhausted runners from the ground and greet them with a genuine handshake.
The accolades — for example having been named the 2013-14 Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Player of the Year — of which there are many, speak to Fisher’s talent and resolve, but much like the weather, the North Wind, they fail to define him as a runner.
“I don’t think racers are made or defined in the 15 minutes or so of racing, but in the other 23 3/4 hours of the day,” Fisher said.
Rockford finished first overall as a team (140), while White Lake Lakeland placed second (146). Waterford Mott was third (148).
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But it’s not my druthers that count; it’s the page views. At least for now. Perhaps there is no room in sports writing for iconoclasm. That won’t stop from trying to work a little in every time I get the chance.
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