By Jeff Nations
Stonewall Jackson High School cross country coach Mary Clanahan had a simple request for Generals senior Ashton Davis this week -- please, take a break.
Fresh off completing her final cross country season by earning all-state honors in the Class 2A state meet on Saturday, Davis has earned some well-deserved down time before jumping into training for her next sport of outdoor track and field.
Essentially, Clanahan was asking Davis to kick back and relax for at least a week.
"I ran today -- I'm not going to lie," Davis said on Monday after learning she had been named The Northern Virginia Daily's Girls Athlete of the Week for Nov. 10-Nov. 16. "Right after cross country season I feel like I'm in really good shape and I don't want to lose any of that."
Last Saturday's state performance -- Davis finished 14th in 20 minutes, 8 seconds on the course at Great Meadow in The Plains -- capped a comet-like cross country career for Davis. Last year was her first competing in the sport, and Davis made stunning progress throughout the year. After barely qualifying for last year's state meet, Davis had a dazzling debut as a junior running for the first time at Great Meadow. She clocked a 20:02 to finish fourth overall in the Group A state meet.
This time around, with the new six-classification format, Davis had to go up against a powerhouse team from Maggie Walker. That school placed an astounding six runners among the top 15 to earn all-state recognition. Davis beat the seventh Maggie Walker runner by two spots, and also surged to nip Shenandoah District rival Jordan Shuff of East Rockingham by a second.
"It was only her second time running at Great Meadow," Clanahan said. "She was like, 'Coach, I was six seconds off [her time last year]. Had she run on Friday, it might have been different. She still had a tremendous day going against a phenomenal team like Maggie Walker."
Davis was hovering outside the top-15 seeding, according to the popular running website www.milestat.com. She beat that projection to earn all-state honors once again, which really was the ultimate goal.
"It was a good race," Davis said. "We had good weather to run in -- it wasn't too hot or too cold. For my last cross country race, I think it was a good one."
Davis said having teammate Brandy Webb, a freshman making her state meet debut, along for the trip was helpful motivation and provided a built-in warm-up partner. Webb had a great day in her own right, finishing 23rd overall in 20:53. Webb represents the future of the Generals' cross country program -- all too soon, Davis is now a part of its past.
"She certainly did cross country justice," Clanahan said. "She jokingly said the other day, 'I kind of wish I'd started sooner,' but you can't take back what happened. We're certainly thrilled she gave us two years."
Davis is already focused on her next challenge -- improving her time as a 400 runner and bettering her marks in the long and triple jumps for the track season. As for the distance stuff, Davis has had enough of that for awhile.
"I maybe will try an 800 [during track], but I like the 400," Davis said.
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