Anthony Grover arrived at the pinnacle of high school cross-country and came up with a 21.
Grover, a senior at JSerra, finished 21st at the prestigious Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 7 in Portland. The invitational features the best high school runners in the nation.
Grover went out hard with the lead pack, covering the first mile in a blistering 4 minutes 42 seconds before completing the 5-kilometer course at the Glendoveer Golf Course in 15:32.88, the fourth-fastest runner from California in the field of 203.
Grover had hit the jackpot the week before as well, winning his third consecutive CIF-State Division IV championship at Woodward Park in Fresno. His winning time of 15:03.2 on the 5K layout was fast enough to earn a spot at the Nike Cross Nationals for the first time in his high school career.
“I did what I wanted to do, which was go under 15:05 and get the win,” Grover told DyeStat.com.
His win in Fresno also put him in the record books as the first runner, boy or girl, to win three straight Division IV state titles, and the fourth [Text Wrapping Break]male to win three straight championships in any division.
Grover’s path to the creme de la creme of high school cross-country came with its share of peaks and valleys.
He burst onto the scene as a freshman three years ago, winning the Division 3 freshman race in the season-opening Laguna Hills Invitational.
By the time he was a sophomore, Grover emerged as the best runner in Orange County, winning the Orange County Championships over defending champion Jack Landgraf of Dana Hills.
He won his first CIF-SS title as a 10th grader, then went on to capture the first of his three state titles.
He made his first appearance at the Foot Locker West Regionals that season, where he missed qualifying for the Foot Locker Nationals by one spot.
It was during his junior year that Grover faced his biggest obstacles.
During his attempt to defend his section title, Grover became exhausted toward the end of the race after leading most of the way and nearly collapsed as he crossed the finish line fourth overall.
That was good enough to qualify for state, however, and Grover delivered another solid effort on the Woodward Park course to defend his title.
He returned to the Foot Locker West Regionals and ran another solid race, finishing fourth to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals, but then he was slammed with another tidal wave of fatigue.
Overcome by exhaustion, Grover had to briefly sit down during the race before gathering himself enough to finish 40th overall.
“I was just at my redline and wasn’t able to get past it,” Grover told MileSplitCA.
He underwent blood tests and it was discovered he had a virus that caused chronic fatigue.
“He’d been running with that throughout the whole season,” JSerra coach Marty Dugard told MileSpliteCA. “We were very hand’s off the first two, three months of track season. He rebounded nicely.”
Grover finished fourth in state in the 1,600 meters at the state track and field finals last June and carried that momentum into his senior cross-country season.
It’s been all aces ever since.
“I’m his coach, so I’m completely biased, but I see him every day in practice. …. He’s as mentally tough as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Dugard told DyeStat. “When he races to win, he’s fearless.”