Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

Stockdale High's Connor Fisher approaches the final mile of the CIF division 1 race at Woodward Park in Fresno running in a tight pack Saturday.

Connor Fisher said he took up cross country just to get in shape when he was in eighth grade.

"I was conditioning for soccer and basketball," Fisher said.

Well, he's no longer playing those sports, but he's moved to the top of the list among local cross country runners.

A senior at Stockdale, Fisher is The Californian's Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

Fisher won the Kern County Championships in 15 minutes, 5 seconds, a 25-second edge over the runner-up.

He won the Southwest Yosemite League meet, edging teammate and fellow All-Area runner Blake Haney, then placed fifth in the Central Section Division I race with a 15:53, six seconds slower than Haney, who was second in the race.

At the state meet, Fisher and Haney finished side-by-side, with Fisher placing 65th and Haney 66th despite Fisher injuring his right ankle in that race.

Fisher credited hard work over the summer for preparing him for this season.

"I took my workouts seriously and I didn't mess around on easy runs," Fisher said. "I did the runs and I did more cross-training and core exercises, like pull-ups and push-ups. It really paid off."

As a comparison, at the prestigious Mount San Antonio Invitational, he ran 16:01 as a junior and 15:07 this season.

The Mount SAC meet was one of Fisher's highlights this season, he said, calling it "my breakout race" against a competitive field of runners that later qualified for the state meet.

"It's the hardest course in California," Fisher said.

Another moment to remember was placing third at the Clovis Invitational, which was held at Fresno's Woodward Park, the same course as the Central Section finals and state championship.

"For the first time, I saw what I could do on that course," Fisher said, saying that race was special because his time was "comparable to other" state meet competitors who competed that day. "It put me in a position to get a top-10 finish at State," he said.

But that didn't happen. Fisher's hopes for a high finish were doomed early on when he rolled his right ankle.

"I sprained my ankle 1,200 meters into the (meet)," Fisher said.

"It was going to be a great race for me. I didn't go out too hard. I was relaxed. It was just one of those things."

He said the injury occurred when he rolled his ankle on a concrete curb where the course crossed a road.

"I was boxed in and I looked up at the wrong time," Fisher said. "I rolled my shoe completely over. I put a hole on top of my shoe as the top of my foot rolled completely underneath."

Fisher said he didn't feel a lot of pain initially.

"My body went into shock," he said. "I thought I could finish. When I crossed the line, then my blood flow slowed and then it really hurt."

Fisher said he is still recovering and hasn't resumed running in preparation for the track season.

He said he plans on running the 1,600 meters and 3,200 meters in track this spring and has a goal of competing in college.

"Cal Poly and UCLA have talked to me," Fisher said. "I want to run in college for sure."