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Clayton State signs local duo for men's cross country

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

The Clayton State Laker men's cross country program continued to build for the 2011 season as head coach Mike Mead announced on Thursday the signing of two local prep standouts Preston Valencia and Tanner Thomas.

This duo comes to Clayton State from nearby Luella High School in Locust Grove, Ga. They join fellow freshman recruit Alex Foss, an All-State distance runner from Lakeland, Fla., in this season's Laker men's cross country recruiting class. Mead expects both Valencia and Thomas to contribute this season.

"Preston and Tanner make good additions to our distance corps for the coming year," said Mead. "Both come from a solid program at Luella that is guided by local legendary coach Richard Westbrook. They will bring a stronger background in distance training than many guys from Georgia who will be transitioning from the 5K high school distance to the 8K and 10K distances of college.

"They are going to give us good depth both in cross country this fall and on the track in 2012."

Valencia competed in four Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class AAAAA Cross Country championships and last year's Georgia Olympics in the 3,200-meter run. He posted a career-best 16:23 for 5K cross country and turned in a season-best last season of 16:58.

In track and field, Valencia is the Luella record-holder in the 3,200-meter run with a best mark of 10:08.63. He finished runner-up in the Region 2-AAAAA meet and placed 13th in the Class AAAAA Georgia State Track and Field Championships in May. Valencia also has a career-best 4:43.34 in the 1,600-meter run and 2:06.97 in the 800-meter run.

Thomas competed in two straight Class AAAAA Georgia State Cross Country Championships at Luella, and ran a career-best 17:20 in 5K cross country. In track and field, he fared even better during the spring with career-bests 10:16.29 in the 3,200-meter run and 4:49.13 in the 1,600-meter run.