Clayton and Saunders take down records at Invitational

FORK UNION, VA - The first ever Cross Country Invitational at Fork Union Military Academy's Hardy National 3 Mile Course was a success. Having no major glitches, a fun atmosphere, beautiful course, and exciting races led to a great meet. The meet will only get bigger and better from here.

In the RunnerBill's youth boys race, former Tallwood High School runner Alex Clayton won the race in a course record time of 15:23. Clayton, a junior, moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado over the summer where he took 5th place at the Colorado State Meet. Clayton came back to Virginia this week to visit family and friends back in Virginia for the Thanksgiving holidays.

Roanoke Catholic senior Brian Doherty was the early leader in the race, while Clayton lingered back in the top five at the mile marker. By the two mile mark though, Clayton had moved up into the lead with Doherty giving chase. Clayton pushed in hard on the final straightaway to just break the course record by 2 seconds. The previous course record was 15:25, held by Fork Union's Kippy Keino. Doherty ran an excellent race to take runnerup honors as he finished with a time of 15:33.

Also having strong races in the youth boys race were West Springfield junior Jeff Day (3rd, 15:49) and New Kent senior Guy Alton (4th, 15:53).

Another course record was shattered in the Metro Run & Walk Youth Girls Race. The Jefferson Forest girls brought their entire top 4 from their nationally ranked squad and they proved to be the class of the field, especially the Saunders twins.

First Colonial junior Ashley Ezell was the early leader in the race as she held a large lead on the field for the majority of the first mile. However, she was tracked down by the Saunders twins, Shannon and Kristin who went onto finishing 1-2 in the race. Shannon blazed her own trail in the course as she set the new course record with her time of 17:55. She broke the old course record of 18:10 which was held by North Stafford senior Kristyn Shiring. Kristin also had an impressive run as she was clocked at 18:17 to finish second. Along with the Saunders twins, two fellow Jefferson Forest teammates had exceptional races with Jennifer Templeton (5th, 18:46) and Carling Sitterly (7th, 19:10).

Norfolk Academy 8th grader Ginna Ellis have one eye-popping performance as she finished 3rd in the race with a time of 18:39. A sensational time for only a middle schooler.

The girls' race was very competitive as 12 runners dipped under 20 on the three mile course. All-state runner Beth Fahey of Forest Park also ran well to take 4th place in a time of 19:43. Ezell, the early leader, held onto having a breakthrough run as she took 6th in a time of 18:53.