From a tireless work ethic to careful online study of his racing opponents, perhaps no area cross-country runner is as prepared when he steps to the starting line as Culpeper senior Devin Cornwall.

"He's a student of racing," Blue Devils Coach Kim Williams said. "He knows what he's going up against in every race."

This fall, Cornwall has been one of the hottest runners in Virginia. At the Great American Cross-Country Festival in Cary, N.C., last Saturday, Cornwall finished 11th overall in the Race of Champions with a time of 15 minutes 47 seconds, the fastest time of any Virginian. On Sept. 10, he broke a 10-year-old course record in winning the Chancellor Invitational, and a week after that he won the Woodberry Forest Invitational by 38 seconds.

Williams said that since his strong performance in North Carolina, Cornwall has already perused the Web to study his opponents for this week's Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

"He's one of the toughest kids I've coached in 30 years," Williams said. "There are a lot of kids who have had the talent but couldn't quite put it together. But he has both the talent and the desire to get better."

-- Sean P. Flynn