Douglas grad Dusty Fisher successful in switch from football to track
Little did Dusty Fisher know in 2015 just how far a friendly bet and $15 would take him.
When he graduated from Douglas High School, Fisher went to Boise State University as a walk-on who dreamed that he would one day play football. Turns out, that dream has taken a little bit of a turn that led him to become one of the leading sprinters for Boise State’s track and field program.
Fisher merely smiled when asked about the story behind his change from football to the track Friday afternoon after he played in the sixth annual Douglas Alumni Golf Tournament at the Carson Valley Golf Course.
“I actually got lucky,” he said. “I played football up there for two years. I had a redshirt season and then I had an actual season when I traveled and everything and went to the Fiesta Bowl.
“Then I kind of screwed up my back in the offseason in about February, I met a girl at the time and I basically bet her that I could do decently well running unattached in a track meet. I entered unattached for like 15 bucks, and it went pretty well.”
Amazingly well, actually.
“The Boise State coach was there and saw me run,” Fisher continued. “I wasn’t really thinking about joining the track team, but I had a meeting with him afterward, I liked him right away, and I found there was actually a pretty good shot at getting some financial help through track.”
Fisher has come far in three seasons for the Broncos. In May, he ran the 200 meters and 4×400 relay at the NCAA Division I West Regional in Austin, Texas, and before that at the Mountain West Conference Outdoor Championships, he ran season best times of 20.57 for second-place in the 200 and 46.41 for third-place in the 400.
“It’s all luck because I’m pretty much a product of my coaching,” said the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Fisher. “My coaches have put me in the best position I can be in and that’s all I can ask for, really.”
It’s more than luck, for sure, and impressive considering he never tried track and field in high school.
As a senior at Douglas, Fisher was a first-team all-state wide receiver in football and led the Tigers in receiving with 64 catches for 1,156 yards and 13 TDs as part of an explosive offense that averaged 32.5 points per game. In baseball, he earned first-team all-league accolades as a center fielder during the spring of 2013.
Fisher believes one plus working in his favor is being a relative newcomer to track and field.
“I think I have a lot of potential,” he said. “It’s so new to me, still. A lot of those kids have been doing it for 10 years, whereas me, I feel like I’m still a rookie at it, so it makes all of this much more rewarding and fun for me.”
The good news is that he still has eligibility left for one more indoor season and one more outdoor season.
“I made it as far as I could, hopefully next year I’ll go a little farther and make it to Oregon,” Fisher said, referring to the 2018 NCAA outdoor nationals in Eugene. “That’s the plan, hopefully it goes well. I think it will.”
Fisher has set some other lofty goals for next year — 45.5 in the 400 and 20.3 in the 200, among others.
“Two years ago, I would have said that’s nuts,” Fisher said. “But all of a sudden I’m dropping my time every year and I’m kind of on pace to keep doing that, especially if I keep myself healthy.”
Fisher added that he is still learning the mental part of being a sprinter.
“There’s a big mental side to it, a lot of strategy, there’s a lot more to it than I ever expected,” he said.
Especially when it comes to the 400 meters, or basically, a one-lap dash around the track.
“It’s so painful every single time,” Fisher said. “I know it’s painful for everybody, but pretty much every time I run it, I’m dead. But it’s the most fulfilling race because you know it’s so challenging, physically.”
This success on the track has a little extra meaning since his mother, Jocelyn (Roberts) Fisher, was a standout distance runner for legendary coach Warren Mills at North Tahoe High School and later ran one cross country season for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
“My mom always wanted me to run track as a kid,” Fisher said. “For her to be able to watch me in track, so far that has been the most exciting part about it.”
Another exciting part is the level of talent he has faced, from the Mountain West all the way to the NCAA regionals. One example is Christian Coleman, a 2016 U.S. Olympian from the University of Tennessee, who set NCAA records of 10.82 for the 100 and 19.85 in the 200 at the recent nationals in Eugene. By the way, the American records for the two events are held by Tyson Gay (9.69) and Michael Johnson (19.32).
“Growing up, I knew I was decently fast, but it’s definitely very humbling to be around some of the best in the world,” Fisher said. “Overall as a country, we have some of the best athletes, especially in the sprints. So even to be in the same position to run against some of those guys is a pretty honorable feeling, while very humbling, and definitely a very exciting experience that I hope to never take for granted.”