Pete Barrows

Sports Journalist — Pete.Barrows12@gmail.com

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Pete Barrows
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.

***

Features:

Bloomfield Hills Marian basketball prospects Bailey and Samantha Thomas embrace family tradition of defense

Curtis Russell and Ben Fales each reach 1,000-point plateau to cement legacy at Algoma Christian

Portage Northern falls a point short in pursuit of fourth straight powerlifting state championship

Diver Jake Herremans of Rockford wins second straight Division 1 state title

Division 8 state finals: Kept waiting for 34 years, Munising travels 412 miles for state title shot

Michigan District 9 Big League team aspires for spot in ESPN televised final

Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 67, Jenison 35: Tom Izzo sighted at FHC

Battle Creek Central 47, Portage Central 42: Jamiel Wade punctuates “Battle Creek” debut

Grand Rapids Union 2, Hastings 0: Defender Chris Santana finishes 2nd in cross-country meet, then plays soccer

Bay City Central Quad: Bryan Bishop honored for 30 years of service

Coach Larry Bailey enters Parchment Hall of Fame during 51-27 victory against Delton Kellogg

Dexter softball team honors first coach

Live Covers:

Division 1 boys cross country state finals: Grant Fisher blows away competition in title defense

D2 State Finals: Bay City Western’s Krissy Harmon breaks state record in final meet of her high school career

Grandville Calvin Christian 2, Clarkston Everest Collegiate 1: Bad case of deja vu spites Lakers in state title rematch

Hudsonville Unity Christian 3, Detroit County Day 1: Underdog Yellowjackets undone, despite early edge

Coloma 6, Springport 2: Coloma softball team advances to state semifinal, right on cue

Coloma softball team prepares for Division 3 state quarterfinal matchup with Springport

Chelsea boys swim and dive team’s historic season ends with second place finish at Division 3 state finals

Gamers:

Football

Leroy Pine River 34, Sanford Meridian 27: For second straight week, Pine River scores late to advance

Melvindale Academy for Business and Technology 42, Muskegon Heights Academy 36: Long season at the one

Lansing Catholic 35, Saginaw Nouvel 7: Quarterback Tony Poljan leads Lansing Catholic football team to victory

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 38, Detroit U-D Jesuit 14: Alex Malzone and Grant Perry break school record in win

Breckenridge 30, Merrill 26: Wade San Miguel scores four touchdowns in comeback win

Basketball

Fulton-Middleton 64, Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 60: Pirates avenge buzzer-beater to win Class D regional

Jackson Lumen Christi 71, Battle Creek Harper Creek 68: Khari Willis nets 24 points in win

Muskegon 81, Muskegon Mona Shores 26: Deyonta Davis drums up double-double in victory

Reese 63, Saginaw Valley Lutheran 33: Reyna Frost shatters school scoring record

Jonesville 60, Homer 59: Sarah Dawson thwarts late comeback with game-winning put-back

Ann Arbor Skyline 62, Salem 56: “Ball doesn’t lie” as Skyline wins season-opener in overtime

Saginaw Nouvel 73, Tawas Area 38: Future Miss Basketball candidate Laurel Jacqmain scores 21 in win

Potpourri

Division 4 Bowling State Final: Emma Davis flirts with perfect on her way to state title

Unity Knights 7, Lowell/Caledonia/South Christian 5: Ales Hyrsl nets four goals in victory

Division 3 regional final at Lake Odessa Lakewood: Emable Irankunba leads GRCC to second straight regional title

Flint Southwestern 27-12, Flint Hamady 19-1: Devon Haggard swipes 11 bases in sweep

Okemos 57, DeWitt 56: Conner George hits game-winning 3-pointer as time expires

TVC Jamboree: Freeland girls golf team takes first behind podium sweep

No. 1 ranked Okemos girls water polo team wins fourth East Region Championship in five years

13 lives on in Flint Powers Catholic boys lacrosse team 17-5 victory over Saginaw Heritage

Class B Grant 3, Fremont 1: Grant wins fourth straight district title

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pbarrows@mlive.com

To read more from the high school sports deskclick here to visit my complete archive with MLive.com.

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Written by peterdbarrows

September 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Posted in MLive