2016 Cross Country
Jack Fisher earns All-Region honors
November 12, 2016
HOLLAND, Mich. - Senior Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) has led the Bluffton University men’s cross country program during his four years on the team, almost always running in a strong number one position. He won the first conference individual title (2014) in school history and established the fastest 8,000 meter (5 mile) clocking ever. Today he finished his career as a Bluffton harrier at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championship with a superb race that also had some bittersweet elements.
A national’s appearance has always eluded Fisher and that was his primary goal heading into this meet. Getting off the start line exceptionally well, he positioned himself well within a large and very tight lead pack of about 35 runners. As the pack began to break apart, approaching the two-mile mark, with Fisher having moved into the top 20, he was shoved from behind and went down. By the time he gathered himself to his feet and began running again he had dropped to roughly 50th place. From there his race became a scramble to regain lost positions. Executing a great chase run, Fisher climbed back up the field to finish 32nd out of 249 competitors, the best regional finish in the history of Bluffton cross country, and an All-Region placing, again a first in school history. While Fisher and his coaches were thrilled with his recovery, guts and finishing place, 32nd will not be sufficient to move him on to nationals.
“Jack was on today. It was going to happen,” said Assistant Coach Jim Brandt. “Nationals was in reach, and then it was gone. Contact and falls are a part of this sport and especially in a large, fast men’s field where everything is on the line for a national qualifier. But falls also have an element of angst and unfairness to them that often robs a deserving athlete. Track awaits Fisher but college cross country is unfortunately now a closed book.”
The men’s team also posted the best regional result in the history of the program with a 19th place out of 38 teams. Junior Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) contributed mightily with a huge 64th place finish coming through as the Beavers number two scorer. Freshman Dakota Frost (Edgerton/Hicksville), with by far his best race of the season, came home in 123rd as Bluffton’s third man. Rounding out the scoring five in a spirited duel to the line were freshman Brandon Long (Bucyrus/Colonel Crawford) in 172nd and sophomore Jacob Hill (Dayton/Wayne) in 174th.
“This was the type of race we have been training for all season,” said Head Coach Karen Brandt. “It took some stops and starts along the way and a lot of physical and emotional maturation with such a young, unheralded squad. That’s what makes their performance today especially rewarding, to see them come this far in one season. Of course this bodes well for the future of the program.”
The women’s team, coming off an excellent 2nd place team finish in the HCAC Conference Championship two weeks ago, was a bit let down by their regional race. Senior Anna Hairston (Mansfield/Ontario), like Fisher, a four-year mainstay at the front of the team, crossed the line first for the Beavers in 98th place in a field of 232 competitors. Sophomore Devony Miller (Findlay/Liberty-Benton) finished her race in 124th place while another hotly contested teammate battle took place behind her with junior Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro) crossing the line at 149th as freshman Alexis Cash (Gaines, MI/Lake Fenton) came across two seconds later in 152nd. Completing the scoring five for the Beavers was freshman Haylee Zigan (Newark/Licking Valley) in 165th place who just passed fellow freshman Arie Cox (Ontario) for 5th on the team in the final several hundred meters of the course. The women’s team finish of 24th equaled their previous best performance.
“While it was not the race results we aspired and trained for, the women’s team has, like the men’s, been a joy to coach. I have seen timid freshmen find their fierceness this fall and develop into distance athletes. I have watched them push themselves to places most men wouldn’t go. Undoubtedly the women’s race of the day today was Hauke who has fought a cold most of the week and only just before taking the start line admitted to me she was running a low-grade fever. When I asked her what she was going to do about it, she said ignore it and run her race. Competition is a crucible filled with apprehension; in this sport, undeniable pain; both good and bad race execution; and some luck. No one is infallible and we can’t program them like machines for the perfect performance. We all have good days and not so good days. These women have had many good days throughout the season and like the men’s team, their youth provides plenty of optimism for the future of Beaver cross country.”
The next two weeks will be an active rest period for the harriers before they meld themselves into the track and field team as the middle distance and distance runners when the indoor season opens Saturday, Dec. 3, at Tiffin University.