CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Every so often, no matter how great an athlete or team is, there is a seemingly larger-than-life roadblock standing in the way of reaching the full potential.
For George Washington standout Matthew Brafford and the entire state, Cabell Midland senior Jacob Burcham poses as a huge obstacle.
Burcham, a seven-time state champion, is the two-time reigning McCoy Award winner as the best track and field athlete in the state both at the high school or college level. He has signed at Division I Oklahoma.
Brafford, though, is also one of the state's best. The GW junior qualified for the State Meet by winning the Class AAA Region 3 championship in the 1600- and 3200-meter run at University of Charleston Stadium on Wednesday.
"I'm really trying to make a name for myself," Brafford said. "Being a junior, it's the most important year for me to get my times down and get my placing up to make sure the colleges will notice me."
Brafford is ranked fifth in the state overall by Runwv.com and has set the second-fastest time of anyone in the state behind Burcham in his two best events, the 1600 and 3200.
"It feels good to know all my hard work is paying off and showing throughout the whole state," Brafford said. "It's good to have that recognition."
Brafford is hoping to set a couple school records at GW, as well.
"In the two-mile (3200), I'm a half-second off and in the one-mile (1600), I'm one second away," he said. "I'm going to try and beat the school record. It's really important and would be pretty near to have my name in the school."
Despite all of his accomplishments, Brafford knows that Burcham is the standard bearer and that every athlete owes a lot to the Midland senior.
"Everybody in the state looks up to him and wants to be up there in the spot light with him," Brafford said. "If he wasn't here, none of us would be where we are today."