By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
March 15, 2015
NEW YORK — For roughly 1,550 meters of the boys’ championship mile at New Balance Nationals Indoor here today, Michigan’s Grant Fisher looked unstoppable. The 17-year-old from Michigan came in as the class of the field, and assumed his position well out in front of the pack from the gun. Shooting for a 4:00-clocking, Fisher looked to be on his way to a record-setting mark in the discipline. Then disaster struck, opening up the possibility for a monumental upset and major disappointment.
Through the quarter mile in roughly 59 seconds and halfway in 1:59, Fisher was a man on a mission. Although he slowed slightly with 600 meters remaining, the high school senior refocused at the sound of the bell, beginning his kick with vengeance on the backstretch. No competitor was within 15 meters of the two-time Gatorade National Cross Country Runner of the Year award winner.
For an instant it looked like a four-minute time (or even lower) was possible, as Fisher turned to a gear previously not seen at these championships. Pumping his arms and legs in perfect form, Fisher entered the final bend when the unthinkable happened.
Leaning into the turn, Fisher’s spikes caught the metal rail on the inside of the track. Momentarily stumbling, Fisher took about three steps inside the rail, then another step on the green colored infield surface adjacent to the long jump pits — well off the banked racing surface.
Shocked and surprised, Fisher quickly made his way back onto the track, finishing the final 50 meters in lane two and clocking a final time of 4:03.54. Despite the mishap, Fisher’s time was a meet record, bettering Alex Hatz’s 4:05.50 mark from 2010. (In this reporter’s opinion, without the stumble Fisher would have run between 4:00-high and 4:01-low).
For minutes after the race’s conclusion, The Armory’s crowd seemed hushed, unsure if Fisher would be disqualified. From the video webcast, the usually upbeat Armory crowd could be heard murmuring, awkwardly silent for a moment.
On the meet’s webcast, Fisher appeared baffled in a post-race interview and simply stated that he leaned too far into the turn. He said it was a near perfect race up until that point.
Had there been a protest and disqualification for Fisher making multiple steps inside the rail, James Burke of Port Jefferson (NY) –the runner-up– would have been given the gold medal thanks to his 4:08.48 performance.
FRAZIER RUNS AWAY WITH GIRLS 2 MILE TITLE, THOUGH DENIED THIRD CROWN
Ryen Frazier opened up a sizable gap within the first 800 meters of the girls’ 2 mile and never looked back. Hitting halfway in 5:02, the senior from North Carolina kept her foot on the gas to put away any thoughts of the field catching back up.
The North Carolina State University-bound Frazier broke the tape in 10:02.86, a very fast time considering that less than 48 hours before she finished second in the 5000m (16:12.81). Her margin of victory in the 2 mile was 17 seconds.
Frazier wasn’t done yet, though. An hour and a half later, she returned to the oval for the girls’ mile. Taking the lead with 800 meters to go, it appeared a second title on day three of these championships may become reality.
Nevada Mareno, also of North Carolina, would play spoiler, though, kicking past Frazier with 100 meters left to win in 4:43.23. Frazier placed second in 4:44.48.
HUNTER WINS A ROUGH BOYS’ 2 MILE
The Boys’ 2 mile was a three man contest, as Andrew Hunter, Levi Thomet, and Alex Ostberg battled ferociously over the last kilometer. The trio were so compact that elbows were briefly exchanged both around the bends and in the straightaways of the 200m banked oval.
Hunter was the first to try and make the winning break with 300 meters to go, matched seconds later by Thomet. On the backstretch with 150 meters remaining, it was Thomet’s turn to go, briefly exchanging another elbow before Hunter shut the door on the pass attempt.
Undaunted, Thomet –a native of Kodiak, Alaska– went again with 75 meters left. Yet it was Hunter (Purcellville, VA) gaining the final and ultimate edge, prevailing by a step in 8:48.22. He’d grab the finish tape in celebration while Thomet finished an oh-so-close second in 8:48.32.
Ostberg, who had run the 4xMile yesterday with his Darien, Conn., teammates, was third in 8:48.88.
FAST 800M WINS FOR BELL, WATSON
Dayton, Ohio’s Brian Bell had to run all the way through the line in the seeded section of the boys’ 800m to claim the national crown in 1:51.08. Shortly before the race began, Bell was upgraded from heat two to the third and fastest seeded section. The late adjustment caused for some drama.
In heat two minutes before, Brandon McGorty –brother of Stanford University standout Sean McGorty– ran a blistering 1:51.50. Had Bell not bettered his mark, McGorty would’ve won the title thanks to medals being awarded based on time.
Sammy Watson of Rush Henrietta (NY) won the girls 800m in 2:08.13. It was Watson’s second title of the weekend, having been part of the national record setting sprint medley relay team on Saturday.