Throughout the summer, we will be honoring graduating seniors with our annual Salute to Seniors series! To submit your own questionnaires to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The distance runner earned a number of state medals during his strong career at FCA. Fitch was fifth at the XC state meet as a junior and 11th as a senior. He ran his XC 5K best of 15:47 as a sophomore at the Red, White & Blue Classic.
On the track, Fitch was a state medalist indoors, running his PR of 9:17.75 for fifth in the AAA 3,200 meters. He was a two-time indoor state medalist in the 3K, taking eighth as a junior and fifth as a senior. This past winter, he ran his 3K PR of 8:38.90 at the state meet.
The Temple recruit reflected on his career for PennTrackXC
What was your most memorable race/competition?
The Butler Invite 3200 my sophomore year. The Butler 32 under the lights always had one of the best racing vibes, it's honestly hard to describe, but those who have run it will understand. It was ridiculously cold that year, and by the time the 3200 started (almost 10:30 at night) it was well into the 30s. The gun went off and for the first time in my high school track career, it wasn't about time. I was solely focused on competing and just trying to win the race. The race started out super fast in the first lap, then turned super slow/tactical, which was fun. I made a move with 250 to go, hit a wall, and proceeded to get beat by a second by Sam Snodgrass. It was hands down the most fun race I've ever run.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
The obvious answer would have to be any state meet. The state meet is full of the state's elite runners, which is hard to replicate in a normal invite. However, during my last two years or so, the WPIAL had a handful of top 5-10 guys in the state. It forced you to bring your A-game just about every race, because we had to run against each other week in and week out.
Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
I don't know if there is any accomplishment that really stands out to me because every accomplishment is special and is a stepping stone to the next goal/challenge. With that being said, if I had to pick one, it would probably be taking 5th at XC States my junior year. It was my first state medal, and the first time I felt that I had run well in a big race.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I would have focused a lot more on nutrition (particularly freshman year XC). Unfortunately I wasn't able to get enough calories in as I adjusted to the difference in training volume, dropped a ton of weight, and my body gave out on me at the end of the season. It was something that was definitely preventable and it had a ripple effect that took some time to fully correct.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
As I mentioned above, my freshman year XC setback was my most difficult obstacle. I had to completely rebuild my body, fitness, and confidence from ground zero. It took a few seasons, and to be completely honest, I only started getting the confidence back within the last year. So much of running has to do with confidence. You can be the fittest guy on the line, but if you doubt yourself or your abilities, you are going to fold like a deck of cards when the going gets tough. It's something I've really been battling with throughout my career, although it's gotten much better lately.
What will you miss the most?
Definitely the friends I've made along the way. I've been truly blessed with not only amazing teammates, but also great friends from around the WPIAL. It's going to be hard not being able to walk through the halls of FC and see the boys, sharing inside jokes at practice, etc.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Trust the process. You aren't going to run well every race. But one bad race doesn't define you. My middle school coach left me with this: "It's how you respond to your bad days that will define you". As long as you consistently put the work in and make sure you recover right, good performances will follow eventually.
Also, enjoy every minute of running/HS. It goes by so much faster than you think. Make the most out of the time you are given, and have as much fun and make as many memories with your friends/teammates as you can. When all is said and done, those are the things you are going to cherish.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?
There is no way to overstate how much my coaches have influenced my life. I will always be thankful for everything my coaches have done for me. They have impacted my life more than they will ever know. If it weren't for my middle school coach seeking me out to invite me to try XC, I wouldn't have run. So quite literally, I wouldn't be in the position I am right now without him. Once I got to high school, Coach Moul really helped me to grow as a runner and as a person. He helped me to become more mature as an athlete, by instilling a business-like approach to my training. In doing so, he helped me grow as a student and as a person as well.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will be attending Temple University to run XC and will be majoring in Kinesiology.
I just wanted to say thank you to my parents for all the sacrifices they've made over the years to help me pursue my dreams and for pushing me to do my very best. Thank you to my coaches for shaping me into the runner I am today. Thank you to all of the upperclassmen who helped me find my way on the team. Thank you to my teammates and WPIAL friends (there are too many to name individually) for helping to make my high school running experience truly special. You guys are and will always be family to me.