Cantley’s streak ends at six titles

PARKERSBURG -In last year’s Two Mile Race, Tyler Cantley won his record-tying sixth title despite being pushed to the finish line by Charleston’s Matthew Brafford.

This year, the No. 1 rated high school cross country runner in West Virginia turned the tables, beating Cantley to the tape and ending the former Warren High School and Ohio University runner’s domination of the race the past six years.

Brafford, who led from start to finish, blistered the course in 9 minutes, 43 seconds, four seconds off the course record set by Cantley in 2010. The 17-year-old’s winning margin was 23 seconds with Cantley finishing in 10:06.

Ever the sportsman, Cantley was the first one to congratulate Brafford, a senior at George Washington High School.

Perhaps this version of the Two Mile Race should have been renamed the Two Man Race as it took virtually no time for Brafford and Cantley to separate themselves from the remainder of the huge field.

By the time they reached the News and Sentinel office on Juliana Street, it was obvious there were only two potential winners as the gap between Brafford and Cantley and their closest competition was wide.

“He started out quick,” said Cantley, who graduated from Ohio University last year and has been working two jobs which has limited his training schedule. “He ran a great race.

Cantley is witnessing some major changes in his life as he is going back to Ohio University and will be getting married to Alyssa Konz on Nov. 22.

For now, Cantley will share the Two Mile Race record of six consecutive wins with fellow Warren graduate Jason Linton. But Cantley may not be finished.

“I’m going to keep an eye on things,” he said. “If someone starts getting close to six, I may be back.”

When Brafford broke the tape, no one was sure who had won. They knew Cantley had finished second, but were waiting to hear the name of the winner. Public address announcer Randy Kinsolving quickly cleared up the mystery, declaring Matthew Brafford of Charleston as the winner.

Brafford is an accomplished runner whose goals for his senior season are not only to win the Mountain State Athletic Conference and West Virginia state cross country championships, but also to represent West Virginia in the national cross country championships in Oregon, following in the footsteps of former St. Marys High School runner Maggie Drazba.

Brafford came to Parkersburg on Saturday determined to win the race.

“That has been my goal the past two years,” he said. “My friends kept telling me about this race and how one guy had dominated it.”

Now, perhaps it is Brafford’s turn to become that guy.

“I would love to come back,” he said.

That will depend on Brafford’s life situation.

In addition to his running career, he also must decide which college he is going to attend.

For now, he is keeping his options in that regard open.

Wherever he goes, he plans to study petroleum engineering, a field he says is in high demand and virtually guarantees that one will be able to find immediate employment.