2016 Girls Track Coach of the Year: Clanahan leads Generals to strong season

Mary Clanahan

QUICKSBURG — Seven was enough.

Stonewall Jackson only had seven girls qualify for the Group 1A state track and field meet, but that was all they needed to finish third.

Stonewall Jackson distance coach Mary Clanahan said that it reminded her of another Stonewall Jackson girls track and field team.

“All I could think of was the very small team that we had in 2000, because we only took eight girls to the state meet in 2000 and we won,” Clanahan said.

Many of the seven girls that qualified for this year’s state meet were coached by Clanahan, and many of them were also on Clanahan’s cross country team this past season. That squad finished fifth in the state meet.

“It’s just that stepping stone and they’re still young,” Clanahan said. “They’re a very young team. It’s a great building stone going into this fall again. We’re truly blessed right now with our women’s program at Stonewall right now.”

The Generals had only one senior on this year girls track and field team — Hayley Gibson, who will be running at Radford University next year.

Clanahan, The Northern Virginia Daily’s 2016 Girls Track and Field Coach of the Year, said that the girls worked hard all season and she was happy to see it pay off at the state meet.

Junior Brandy Webb placed second in the 1,600-meter run after being seeded fifth going into the meet. Junior Angela Misquith finished second in the 300-meter hurdles.

Clanahan said those two will be great leaders for the team next year.

“Brandy and Angela those are strong leadership role models,” Clanahan said. “When you’ve got two kids that were on two relays and individual things that finished high at the state level and they’re mentally tough. Those two girls are just powerhouses and the kids like to be around them.”

Clanahan said that even though Misquith is a hurdler, she also worked with the distance team on her endurance and she believes that helped her.

Gibson finished third in the 400-meter dash and fourth in the 800-meter run at the state meet.

Freshman Autumn Smith was sixth in the 400-meter dash.

The Generals also did very well in the 4×800 meter and 4×100 meter relays. Stonewall placed sixth in the 4×800 and second in the 4×400.

“The 4×8 was really an exciting event for us this year, because we had never done one,” Clanahan said. “Of course our 4×4 team, that’s (Stonewall Jackson head) coach (Dick) Krol — that’s his baby. He’s just really fond of that 4×4. …The 4×4 team consists of two freshman and two juniors so I would look for that team to be really strong come next year.”

Gibson, Webb, Haley Bennett and Misquith are on the 4×800 team, while Webb, Misquith, Carly Bennett and Smith are on the 4×400 team.

The seventh member of Stonewall’s track and field team that qualified for states was Destiny Neff, who just missed qualifying for the finals in the 200-meter dash.

With such a small team, Clanahan said she didn’t the girls team won a meet during the regular season. The Generals did place sixth in the Region 1A East meet, despite not running everyone in all of their events due to the heat.

Clanahan said no one really expected the success they had at the state meet.

“They didn’t even set a goal to place at states,” Clanahan said. “That was the beauty of it. There wasn’t pressure on them and then it happened. It was a natural thing that happened for them. The pressure was on everyone else. It was just a wonderful blessing for them to walk off and for me to see the beautiful smiles on these women.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com