The Fisher Phenomenon

Updated: Jun 3, 2019

11 Time All-American.

Two-Time Foot Locker Champion.

Seventh U.S. High Schooler to Break Four Minutes in the Mile.

Olympic Trials Qualifier.

One Time NCAA Champion.

Grant Fisher is one of the most accomplished athletes in the country heading into the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Championships. Ironically, he may also have the most to prove in his final championship meet.

As a high schooler in Michigan, Grant Fisher established himself as one of the best prep runners in American history. Winning multiple national titles and breaking the elusive four-minute mile barrier would surely set Fisher up to win a handful of national titles at Stanford and dominate the NCAA.

Of course, life does not always go as planned and expectations are often difficult to match, especially when they are set so extraordinarily high.

Fisher has only been crowned NCAA champion once in his career - the 2017 outdoor 5000 meters. Often overshadowed by other athletes such as Edward Cheserek, Justyn Knight, and most recently Morgan McDonald, Fisher has consistently had to settle for less than first place. As a result, there is seemingly a heavy amount of pressure on Grant Fisher to win this upcoming weekend and possibly close out his career on a high note*.

*Fisher has a season of indoor eligibility left, but it is unclear if he will use it.

The legacy of the Stanford superstar stands to gain a lot this weekend.

It also has a lot to potentially lose.

If he wins, Grant Fisher becomes a two-time champion and will have taken down an all-time great in Morgan McDonald while returning to the stage he put himself on two years ago.

But if he doesn't win...what happens? Before diving too deep into the implications of Fisher’s legacy, there are a few points to keep in mind.

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Even though Fisher has only won a single title in 11 tries, this is still more than most athletes will ever win. Many athletes have gone on to have successful professional careers and compete at Olympics and World Championships despite never having won a title. Even one NCAA gold puts Grant Fisher in an elite class of athletes.

More so, the man is consistent. Fisher has only finished outside of the top six once at a national championship meet. During his freshman year, he finished 17th at the cross country national meet which is one of the highest finishes by a freshman in recent years. The fact that Grant Fisher has become an All-American every time he has had the opportunity is something we rarely see (with the possible exception of Robert Heppenstall).

Winning an NCAA title as a sophomore puts an individual under an immense amount of pressure to repeat that performance. Even a runner-up finish can be seen as sub-par, when in reality, earning a silver medal is pretty darn good.

Going into the upcoming championship without regard for the potential outcomes, Grant Fisher’s legacy is one of a well-rounded, fierce competitor. There has not been a single race that he has been entered in during his time at Stanford where he has not been in the conversation of potentially winning. Whether it is in cross country or a 1500 on the track, Fisher has been on everybody’s radar as a serious contender.

Consistency is a characteristic that often goes unnoticed, but it molds our favorite runners into the champions that we know and love. Just ask Bryce Hoppel who has won 17 consecutive races this year which includes a national title.

Maybe that's why we still view Fisher as such a phenomenal talent despite his lack of titles. Just think, when was the last time he had a substantially poor performance? His worst result is a 17th place finish in the PAC-12 1500 as a freshman, although that race hardly defined his season as he ran 13:39 for 5000 meters and finished 6th at NCAA's that year.

Consistency is one of the most aspects of competition, and Grant Fisher has essentially made it his middle name.

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The race at NCAA's this upcoming weekend will almost certainly come down to the final 200 meters. If Grant Fisher walks away with a win in the 5k, he will not only show that he is wildly consistent, but that he can take down the best of the best in the late stages of the race - a strength of his that has seemingly dissolved over the past year or two.

Of course, if he loses, the discussion of where he stands among the all-time greats becomes less clear and likely complicates the overall picture even more from an objective point of view. In an era defined by the national titles of Edward Cheserek and Northern Arizona, arguments in favor of Fisher's spot on an all-time list becomes increasingly more challenging.

Still, his personal best of 13:29 makes him one of the best in the field and his Millrose title over Morgan McDonald this past winter shows that he is at least capable of hanging with the Badger veteran in the final moments of the race.

Saturday's race could end up being the most difficult challenge of Fisher's collegiate career.

It could also end up as the most rewarding...