By Brad Fauber
Before the start of the fall cross country season, Stonewall Jackson coach Mary Clanahan mentioned freshman Brandy Webb as one of the young runners for the girls squad that could make a huge impact for the Generals this season.
As the season now begins to run deep into postseason competition, it's easy to see why Clanahan was so excited about Webb's potential.
Webb has been a consistent top finisher for Stonewall Jackson all year, almost always crossing the finish line shortly after the Generals' No. 1 girls runner, standout senior Ashton Davis. In fact, Webb will join Davis and boys runner Pedro Jacuinde as the only Generals who will be competing in today's 2A East regional championship at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville.
Clanahan said Webb's success this year has been a testament to the freshman's unrelenting work ethic.
"She's just full of determination," Clanahan said. "She's just one of those kids that has that internal drive that coaches are looking for."
Webb used that drive to its full potential in last week's Conference 35 championship meet, as she simply wouldn't be denied that coveted trip to the regional meet in her first season at the varsity level.
Against a field that included runners from seven different schools, Webb breezed along Stonewall Jackson's home course at the New Market Battlefield. She finished with a time of 22:24, setting a new personal record on the course and finishing in fourth place.
Best of all, Webb qualified for the regional championship. For her performance, Webb was named The Northern Virginia Daily's Female Athlete of the Week for the week of Oct. 27-Nov. 2.
"I just tried my best because I knew that if I didn't then I wouldn't make it to regionals," Webb said.
Webb finished less than a minute behind Davis, who had tried to keep pace with George Mason standout Blaise Sevier, who was eventually able to pull away for a winning time of 21:26.
Clanahan was also quick to point out that Webb was not too far off of Stonewall Jackson's record for the New Market Battlefield course, which Davis had previously held and broke last week with her time of 21:37.
Though Webb has consistently put on performances like the one during the conference meet, even Clanahan was a little surprised at the freshman's top five finish.
"We were hoping for at least a top 10 finish for her ... but when she finished fourth, wow," Clanahan said. "We were just as excited for her as she was for herself."
Webb will now turn her sights on having a similar performance today at Panorama Farms, a course that the Generals ran earlier this year at the Albemarle Invitational on Oct. 12. In that race, Webb turned in a time of 21:39.4.
Clanahan said Webb should benefit from having that initial experience on the course, citing that Webb is a "very mental runner." Webb has also helped the team prepare for the regional meet by suggesting the Generals practice on a trail near Shenandoah Caverns that presents terrain similar to that at Panorama Farms, which Stonewall Jackson did on Monday evening.
It should also help that Webb has a good mentor in Davis, and Webb said she hopes to follow Davis to an appearance in the Class 2A championships at Great Meadow on Nov. 16.
"She's been a good role model and leader," Webb said of Davis. "She knows the ropes and I just follow her."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD