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Mickey Furfari

November 7, 2013

FURFARI COLUMN: Ex-WVU runner now excelling as a professional

MORGANTOWN — Clara Grandt Santucci, who is an employee of Morgantown’s Health Works firm, continues to add honors to her already lengthy list of track and field superstardom at three different levels.

The 26-year-old West Union native first earned status as an All-State runner in both cross country and track at Doddridge County High School. Then she earned All-America status in the two sports at West Virginia University from 2006-07 through 2009-10.

After graduating with honors both athletically and academically from high school, Clara enrolled at WVU and was redshirted in the two sports in 2005-06.

An athlete who improved notably each of her four great years, she was a tough, determined runner with speed as a Mountaineer. She also received accolades in the classroom — not only from WVU but the Big East Conference.

Now the talented young lady, with the full support and encouragement of personnel at Health Works, is building on her distinguished reputation as one of America’s leading professional runners — if not the very best at her young age.

Highlighting Santucci’s numerous achievements are these:

• She was the first American and seventh-place finisher in the 2013 Chicago Marathon.

• First American to finish and ninth-place finisher in the 2013 Ottawa, Canada, Marathon.

• First-place winner in the 2013 City of Pittsburgh Great Race.

• Seventh-place finish in the 2012 Olympic team marathon trials.

• Third American to cross the finish line for 16th place in the 2011 Boston Marathon in her professional debut (in a field of over 40,000 runners).

• Fourth-place finish in the 2011 USA 15-K competition.

• Sixth place in the 2011 USA Half Marathon Championship event.

• First place in the 2010 Rothman Institute 8-K Road Race.

• Fifth place in the 2010 USA 10-K Road Championship.

• Fourth place in the 2010 USA 20-K Championship.

• Eighth place in the 2010 Outdoor Championship 10-K competition.

Clara and 33-year-old husband Jason Santucci have been married one year. They currently reside in the Mt. Morris, Pa., area. He also works here, and has taken up running “just for fun.”

Her proud parents are Tom and Diana Grandt, who still live in West Union where Clara grew up.

“I really enjoyed running for WVU in competition very much,” Clara declared. “I had a great five years there (including the redshirt sit-out).”

Her coach was Sean Cleary.

As a collegian, she was named All-American in cross country as a junior (2009) and then four times as an All-American for track — once indoors and three times in outdoor track meets.

Here are other significant feats Clara posted at the university:

• First place in the 2010 NCAA outdoor east regional preliminaries in the 10-K event.

• Fourth place in NCAA outdoor 2010 championship in 10-K.

• First place in the 2010 Big East Conference championship in the 10-K.

• Eleventh place in NCAA 2010 championship in 5-K.

• Fourteenth place in the 2009 NCAA cross country championships.

• Fourth place in the 2009 outdoor championships in 10-K.

• First place in the 2009 Big East outdoor championship in the 5-K.

Clara’s best performances time-wise, included these:

• Marathon — 2 hours, 29.34 minutes in the Boston Marathon.

• 20-K — 1:09:01 in 2010 20-K Championships.

• 15-K — 50:34 in the 2011 USA Championships.

• 10-K Road Race — 32:53 in the City of Pittsburgh Race.

• 10-K track meet—33:16.99 in the 2009 Stanford Invitational.

• Eight-K road meet — 26:23 in Philadelphia.

• 5,000-meter meet — 16:01 at Palo Alto, Calif.

“I love working hard to stay in running condition,” Clara Grandt Santucci said. “But I also enjoy my job of working with people in the Health Works exercise pool.”

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