By Andrew Johnson
While the Packers won the Division 2 team state championship last year, Walker finished fourth overall behind three seniors, his closest attempt yet at winning the individual state crown.
He has inched closer every year. He finished 19th in 2017 as a freshman and fifth in 2018 as a sophomore, before his fourth place finish last season.
“It’s been something I’ve been working toward for the last six years,” Walker said. “It’s always been on my mind as one of my main goals, because that would be pretty cool.”
While Walker is hoping to finally nail down the individual title, he’s more focused on helping Fremont win its second straight Division 2 team championship.
“I will say I’d rather see the team win than myself,” he said. “It would make me happier at the end of the day, and I think it’s very accomplishable.”
It’s pretty clear that Walker has a very good chance of accomplishing his ultimate individual goal as well. In regionals last weekend, he had the fastest time of any Division 2 state qualifier at 14:56.46.
Ironically, his main competition for the individual title may come from a member of his own team – junior Conor Somers.
Somers, the son of Fremont cross country coach Cliff Somers, finished second at regionals, 34 seconds behind Walker.
“He took my son under his wing,” said Coach Somers about the bond Conor shares with Walker. “He encouraged him and told him ‘I think you have a lot of potential,’ and that was good for him to hear from someone besides his dad.”
Walker captured his third straight regional championship last weekend, an accomplishment that was not surprising for his coach.
“He came in and was pretty confident in his ability,” Somers said. “He’s always been pretty on target with where his ability is at. He loves to run and really lives and breathes it. He’s a distance runner through and through.”
That statement is true, to one degree or another, for the entire Fremont boys team, because it’s been nothing but successful for quite a few years now.
At regionals last weekend, the Packers finished with 16 points, far ahead of second-place Petoskey, which had 72.
The Packers were so dominant at regionals, they had the top four runners in the race – Walker, Conor Somers, Ben Paige and Joshua Zerfas.
“It’s exciting to see,” Walker said about his team’s overwhelming success. “I don’t want to say we take it for granted, but it’s almost what we expect because of how we work. It’s like the pieces of a puzzle coming together.”
If the Packers are able to defend their team state championship on Friday, it will be the program’s fourth title under Coach Somers.
“They’re pretty tight knit,” the coach said about his team’s chemistry. “I’ve had teams that were more together than this group, and some teams less, but they all hang out together and enjoy one another.”
“It would be really cool,” Walker added about his team’s bid for a back-to-back state title. “I think we’d be the first Fremont team to ever do it. We have the talent and dedication. I think this season we’ve really been focused on being better than we even were last year.”