FRESNO -- Connor Fisher hobbled his way from the exit chute in pursuit of an ice-wrap for his injured right ankle. Minutes after crossing the finish line in 65th place at the Division I boys race at the CIF State Cross Country Championships, the Stockdale High senior felt two kinds of pain.
Hoping for a top-10 finish , Fisher had his chances for that dashed 1,200 meters in into the 5K course at Woodward Park.
"There's a curb and I didn't see it," he said. "I stepped right over it and rolled my ankle over. It hurts."
It was a disappointing end of the season for the Fisher, who along with his Stockdale teammate Blake Haney (66th place), were two of Kern County's best shots to medal at the day-long event.
"It's big, but stuff like that happens," Fisher said. "I just wish it wouldn't have happened today."
The boys D-I race was the second the day, but the first involving Kern County runners.
Things didn't get much better results-wise for the local contingent as the meet progressed.
East's Sydney Roman brought home the highest individual finish of the day, 41st place in the Division II girls race.
The best result by any of the six local team entries was turned in by the Shafter and McFarland girls, who took 19th in Division II and Division III, respectively.
McFarland and Shafter competed against each other on the boys side. The Cougars won that head-to-head battle 489-659, finishing 21st in the Division II team standings. Shafter took 22nd, as did the Frontier girls (Division III) and Ridgeview boys (Division III).
Haney, the 2011 Central Section Division I champion, finished in a time 16:06, the same as Fisher.
The race was only the fourth of the year for Haney, who is still in the process of recovering from a IT band injury below his right knee.
Despite their health issues, Haney and Fisher hung with the lead pack for the first mile.
“I tried to get out and just relax and try and keep it easy and see how I felt,” Haney said. “See if I could start racing. From the gun, really, my legs, they weren’t working for me. (They were) just sore and heavy.”
Haney attributed his tough day to a lack of practice time.
“I don’t have the miles or the base that all these other guys had,” he said. “It just caught up to me I guess.”
Ridgeview’s Lashya Morgan was the only other local runner to place in the top-60. After a quick start to the girls D-III race, she was running in right around 20th place at the one-mile marker.
But as the race wore on she began to get tired, fading to just inside the top-40 after two miles and finishing 56th.
“It wasn’t my best race,” Morgan said. “I went out too fast, like 30 seconds faster than I usually run my first mile. So I was like dying. I just wore myself out.”
Morgan, who finished with a time of 19:29, said her goal coming into the race was to run the scenic course in 18:40.
“I’m disappointed because this is my last race,” Morgan, a four-time state qualifier said.
McFarland’s Jennifer Ramirez (61st) crossed the finish line just two seconds behind Morgan.
Other locals to finish in the top 100 of their races were Danny Garcia and Luis Orozco of McFarland (79th and 98th, respectively, in D-II boys) and Nicolette Adalpe of Shafter (81st in D-II girls).
The event saw several notable achievements by out-of-area runners.
Arguably the most impressive was turned in by Sarah Baxter of Simi Valley, who set a new course record in winning the Division I girls race in 16:40. That is three seconds better than the previous record.
Baxter’s win makes her a three-time state champion. She won the Division II title last year and was the Division I winner in 2010.
Stockdale’s Tori Blackmon got an up-close look at Baxter, finishing 144th (20:05) in the Division I girls race.
“It was definitely hard,” Blackmon said. “There is no other words to describe it. Just hills, the cold; sometimes those two just don’t add up and it makes it even harder.”
Blackmon said she started the race wanting to finish with in under 19 minutes.
“Obviously today just wasn’t my day,” she said. “I guess I just went out a little too fast with that big ole crowd. Just getting overwhelmed with the size of this race, it’s hard sometimes to be able to bring yourself back and just focus on your training you were given.”
Despite not doing as well as she had hoped, Blackmon like many of the other locals who competed Saturday took pride in just making it to the state meet.
“Just being able to be here my senior year is just a total blessing,” she said.