Matthew Brafford of George Washington High School cruised to the individual boys’ title, while the Broughton High School of Raleigh, N.C., took team honors at Saturday’s Knights Crossing Invitational at Green Hill Park in Salem, Va.
Brafford was the fastest in the 202-runner field, winning in 15:21.80 and cutting 16 seconds off the previous meet record set by Blacksburg’s Peter Dorrell in 2007.
In so doing, he continued a remarkable winning streak. In his first three meets of this fall cross country season, the George Washington High School senior is undefeated and nationally ranked and has set a course record on two occasions.
In his opening race of the season at the Saturday Night Lights in Centerville, Ohio, he ran a 15:23.39 on the 5,000-meter course, just missing the course record by two seconds set by Fairborn’s Jordan Redd in 2010.
Then two weeks later, he blazed his way to a then US#5 clocking at the Chick-Fil-A Invitational in Mineral Wells, WV, posting a time of 15:17.4 for the 5K course.
In his latest win, he dominated the boys’ Red Race from start to finish. Brafford took the field out fast by running his first mile in 4:45, and he then reached two miles in 9:36. He beat his nearest competitor, William Roberson of Broughton, by a margin of 18 seconds. Broughton’s top six runners placed in the top 13 with a 1-6 split of 34.7 seconds.
Broughton ranked 18th in the preseason national team rankings on the strength of their ninth-place finish at the 2012 NXN-SE Regional and by being the North Carolina 4A champions.
“I felt amazing,” Brafford proclaimed. “To be able to break that finish line tape and know that I broke the record, I felt like I had accomplished something. I couldn’t believe that eight guys ran sub-16 minutes. It really gave me a push for the rest of the season and know that all the training is paying off.”
Encouraged by his success this fall, Brafford looks ahead to some ambitious goals. He wants to break Jacob Burcham’s course record of 14:58 at the West Virginia High School State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2 at Cabell Midland High School in Ona, earn a Division I scholarship to a college out west and study petroleum or chemical engineering, and qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego.
To achieve these goals, he put a lot of work in over the summer. Brafford would rise early in the morning for a run and another run later in the day after work.
“To be a champion you have to dream, believe and achieve,” he said.
Matthew works for Robert’s Running & Walking Specialty Shop in Charleston. Who would have ever guessed that?
Keeping his goals in mind, Brafford intends to work harder leading up to the state meet and the Foot Locker South Regional qualifier at McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte, N.C. His training will get more intense as the cross country season progresses, with his next competition this Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Trinity/Valkyrie High School Invitational at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville.
Other West Virginians competing in the Red Race were Ritchie County’s Johnny Hogue (22nd, 16:33.80) and Brafford’s George Washington teammates Cai Carena (78th, 17:47.70), Connor McKinney (122nd, 18:31), Connor Aucremanne (170th, 19:48.90) and Brent Horswell (177th, 20:07.70).
2013 Knights Crossing Invite - Red Boys Race Video
2013 Knights Crossing Invite - Matthew Brafford Interview