Ari Fisher may race her way into the UT record booksWritten by Scott Calhoun | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For most people, a casual run is an activity for the sake of their cardiovascular conditioning and optimum daily health. UT redshirt junior distance star Ari Fisher has turned that casual run into a fast track to instant success.
The reigning Mid-American Conference women’s six-kilometer [3.728 miles] cross-country champion laces up and eats miles for breakfast, spits them out at lunch, consumes a few for a mid-afternoon snack and masters them for dinner. Needless to say, a 5K or 6K race is really satisfying for Fisher.
A former high school cross-country district titlist from Lebanon, OH, Fisher is a pinpoint example of a great athlete just beginning to tap her potential, and the timing couldn’t be better in the midst of a career for a Rockets program that has dominated the MAC in distance events under coach Kevin Hadsell.
“In high school I made it to the state meet once and never qualified in track,” Fisher said. “My college success is all about experience and maturity. Our coaches have us do extensive weight training and cross training, run consistently every day and follow the plan.”
As a sophomore on the cross country circuit Fisher ran in just one event and produced the ninth best time for the team.
A year later she became the fastest UT woman in all six cross country events she competed in, including her MAC title run, a ninth place overall mark in the Great Lakes Regional meet and a final result of 43rd in the NCAA Championships. During those final three races, as the pressure built and the field power increased, Fisher got faster, producing respective times chronologically of 22:18.80, 21:11.46 and 20:47.0.
“I was definitely surprised and shocked. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
Following her breakout performance in the fall, Fisher took newfound swagger to the indoor loops in the 5000-meters, and this past winter she continued to show her sudden rise is no fluke.
She brought home the MAC indoor title in the 5K with a 16:42.87, which was 26 seconds ahead of the runner-up, the fourth best time in school history and the second fastest event time in MAC championship indoor history.
“I had a lot more confidence in indoor because I knew I was able to compete with the best of the best,” Fisher said.
Only time and distance will tell, but Fisher appears headed toward the all-time UT indoor mark in the 5K. Everlyne Lagat broke the school and MAC standards back in 2003 with a time of 16:15.54. Fisher has potentially two years left to lop off the 27-plus ticks separating her and Lagat before the end of her collegiate career. Brianna Shook’s 16:08.40 in 2004 tops the all-time UT list in the open-air 5K, but Fisher has yet to pound on the outdoor lanes this spring as she bounces back from an injury.
“I still plan on doing something this spring,” she said.
Shook is the program’s all-time top female distance runner, a one time U.S. record holder and world class-competitor in the 3000-meter steeplechase. She was an assistant coach at UT when Fisher entered as a freshman in 2007.
“She was definitely an inspiration for me my freshman year,” said Fisher, who hopes to recover quickly from her recent setback so that she can get back to her pursuit to become the latest legend in the Lady Rocket distance annals.
“I don’t really have any records in mind. Right now I’m just focused on getting healthy and getting faster,” she said. “You always have dreams and I never expected to get to the next level. It takes a lot of work, and whatever happens, happens.”