Brafford Adds to W.Va. Contingent at Oklahoma

As a result of its long history in the oil and gas industry, Oklahoma has had more than one pipeline snaking its way across the countryside.

A new one is taking hold and is proving to be as productive as any of the petroleum carriers that have come before it – it is the pipeline carrying West Virginia’s top distance running talent to the campus of the University of Oklahoma. The signing day announcement by George Washington standout Matthew Brafford marks the fourth time in the past three years that a Mountain state runner has signed with the Sooners.

“It felt very comfortable visiting with the team that included runners from West Virginia who have made a place for themselves on the team at Oklahoma,” Brafford said of the Mountain state trio of Jacob Burcham, Brandon Doughty and Eric Graf that runs for OU. “They made me feel very welcomed.”

For Brafford, the choice of a major university in a state steeped in oil and gas lore is two-fold: He plans to study petroleum engineering at the Big 12 school.

“All along the way of my search, I kept focus on selecting a college that would allow me to study in the field that I have chosen, petroleum engineering, and also allow me to run in a quality program,” said Brafford, who won the 2013 Class AAA boys title in cross country after finishing second to future Oklahoma teammate Burcham in 2012. “I want to run at the collegiate level, but I have to remember that I am going to college to get a degree, and OU offers me the field of petroleum engineering.”

Brafford said the other schools on his short list included Tulsa, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State.

With the recruiting process sometimes taking months to complete, Brafford noted that he avoided any conflicts with his competitive schedule.

“I have been talking to coaches off and on since the cross country season began,” he said. “I made a conscious effort not to schedule any visits until I was between seasons so it would not interfere with my training. Yes, I am glad that the decision-making is behind me, and I am looking forward to running for the University of Oklahoma.” 

Brafford, who was eighth as a sophomore and 18th as a freshman in the state AAA cross country final, said his goals for his final outdoor track season at George Washington are to put his name next to the records for the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. In 2013, he was second in the 3,200 and fourth in the 1,600 in the AAA finals at Laidley Field.