Given the strong and talented senior leadership provided last year by Garrett Kenyon and Michael Claflin, Liberty runner Clayson Shumway perhaps held back a little in displaying his true competitive spirit.
Not any more.
With neither to follow this year, the Lancers junior took to the lead in 2012, enjoying a breakthrough season that included individual titles at the Cheyenne Mountain Stampede, Cherry Creek Invitational and Liberty Bell Invitational, where he shattered Alex Clayton’s school record by 14 seconds (15:32). He finished with a runner-up finish at the 5A state meet and stacked up quite nice regionally, placing eighth with a personal best (15:09) at the Nike Cross Southwest Regionals last weekend in Gilbert, Ariz.
“There was a little hesitation last year as he started to get good,” Liberty cross country coach Gary Weston said. “This year, I didn’t think he’d be quite this fast. I talked to his parents after cross country last year that I could see his competitiveness. He hates to lose. I told them he’s going to be a state champ in something, either cross country or track, before he’s done.”
His second-place finish at state only gives him more confidence as he looks forward to his senior year.
“I definitely liked winning the races I did,” Shumway said. “I was finally beating the guys I had raced against and finished behind last year. That gave me a lot of confidence.”
Entering his freshman year, Shumway didn’t entertain grand ideas in cross country after getting a taste of long-distance running in middle school. Instead, he turned his attention to track and football.
But after a solid season on the oval, Shumway wanted to see if he still had the legs, and desire, to run cross country. All he did was place 23rd at the state meet as a sophomore and learn the ropes behind Kenyon and Claflin, who finished sixth and 19th, respectively.
“I was pretty surprised I got top 25,” Shumway said. “I went out there and ran my heart out. I really liked running with Garrett and Michael. They really pushed me and made me better. I knew a lot of the guys who finished ahead of me were going to graduate.”
He embarked on an ambitious and rigorous summer training program, settling into a weekly routine of running up to 60 miles. By the time he returned to Liberty for his junior year, he had accumulated enough miles during the summer to join an elite group, known as the “600-mile club.”
“We had a couple of kids put in good mileage,” Weston said. “He went for the 600-mile club and has the T-shirt to prove it. He really showed me that what he doesn’t have in pure speed is his ability to maintain a pace. He’s so strong and confident. He’s not intimidated by anyone. That’s a good thing to have.”
Another good thing to have? Wheels. Shumway passed his driver’s test on the Monday of Thanksgiving break and soon will have a method of transportation that’s actually faster than him.
“I’ve had my permit for a year and a half, so it finally happened,” Shumway said. “My parents will pick out the car, and it won’t be just mine. My sister (in eighth grade) will get it after me.”
Just as Shumway patiently, or not, waited for that day, the same applied to his day when he was anointed captain of his cross country team. Next year, when he runs his final race, he’ll pass the baton and reins to the next runner who will hope to fill his shoes and maintain the high standards of running at Liberty.
“For each of us, the next runner has always had someone to shoot for,” Shumway said. “I had someone work with me and look up to. Coach Weston is an amazing coach and has a great system. We already have a couple of freshman who are running in the 18s, and I know they’re going to be really good soon.”
Zachary Alhamra, soph., Pine Creek
Jake Erickson, soph., Peyton
Josh Fowler, sr., Cheyenne Mountain
Tucker Hamilton, sr., Rampart
Bailey Roth, jr., Coronado"
Clayson Shumway, jr., Liberty
Conner Wilburn, jr., TCA
Danyon Anderson, jr., Air Academy
Ben Dingman, fr., Rampart
Dan Egger, sr., Coronado
Eric Hamer, soph., Palmer Ridge
Caleb Ingram, jr., Pine Creek
Zach Kuzma, sr., Cheyenne Mountain
William Mayhew, soph., Vanguard
Runner of the Year: Clayton Shumway, jr., Liberty
Coach of the Year: Doug Hugill, Coronado
Alex Baer, sr., Cheyenne Mountain; Eddie Barker, sr., Rampart; Reid Bartels, jr., Rampart; John Booten, sr., Coronado; Jordan Bost, sr., TCA; Andy Boyle, jr., Air Academy; Jordan Deitsch, sr., Palmer Ridge; Will Derrick, jr., Rampart; Adam Egger, fr., Coronado; Jerrett Eller, sr., Lewis-Palmer; Ben Fox, sr., Cheyenne Mountain; Tommy Herebic, soph., Palmer Ridge; Jacob Huisingh, sr., Discovery Canyon; Everett Johnson, soph., TCA; John Kater, sr., St. Mary’s; Andrew Kearse, sr., Pine Creek; Nate Mills, sr., Palmer Ridge; Tristan Myers, jr., Cheyenne Mountain; Tristan Pelto, jr., Cheyenne Mountain; Andres Petrucci, sr., Coronado; Stefan Rodriguez, jr., Coronado; Chandler Ryd, jr., TCA; Schuyler Vandersluis, sr., Coronado