CHARLOTTE, NC -- Abingdon junior Griff Graves certainly showed that his preseason mention by many as a Foot Locker Nationals qualifier this fall was right on the money as he clocked a 15:03 5K to finish second in the 3A race at the Wendy's Invitational held on the same course in which Foot Locker South will be held at in November at the McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte, North Carolina. Graves finished second to one of North Carolina's best in Hickory junior Ryan Hill, who won in 14:55. Graves and Hill's times topped the winning times in the more competitive invitational (Jay Heller, Walton GA, 15:15) race division. Graves time is a state best for 5K this fall by 32 seconds, besting Maymont Festival champion Mike Spooner's 15:35 last Saturday in a win over Graves.
The 15:03 posted by Graves would have qualified him for Foot Locker Nationals in all but two past Foot Locker South races and ties the former meet record time posted by 2005 Foot Locker Nationals finalist Sandy Roberts.
Other Virginians also competed at the Wendy's Invitational as Battlefield junior Elizabeth Walls led her team to a runner-up finish in the open division by winning the race in a big personal best time of 19:04. Battlefield had an entire top five under 21 minutes on the fast McAlpine 5K course with Walls, sophomore Courtney Clay (15th, 20:22), sophomore Diana Budreika (16th, 20:29), junior Jessica Larsen (20th, 20:40), and junior Kelly Gass (23rd, 20:46). Battlefield is definitely a rising top team in the Northwest region with no seniors among that group.