The stories behind the names

AHS alumni reflect on their journey of breaking school records

Grace Hogye and Ryan Gammon

Hundreds of students walk through the jock lobby every day. Many see the sign that contains the AHS track and field records but may not think about what it took for the athletes to get their names on the list. AHS alum, Shannyea Whichard is one of those names.

Whichard, who graduated in 2016 and now attends NOVA, holds the school record for the 100 meter dash with a time of 12.74 seconds. She began track her sophomore year and never expected that she would break a school record that season.

“I didn’t think that I would hold the record because coming in there were a lot of fast girls who could have easily gotten the record as well,” Whichard said.

Despite her doubt, Whichard was able to rise above and break the record during her very first year of track. However, she had to work extremely hard to achieve her title.

Whichard participated in track practices that were held every day after school. During those practices, Whichard pushed herself harder and harder in order to shave down her times. From the start, she excelled in shorter distances. However, even record holders have weaknesses.

“The most challenging part of training was running anything above a 200 meter. My body did not like to cooperate with longer distances and I would usually tire out,” Whichard said.”

Whichard was able to push through the challenges, but she did not do it on her own. It is only Whichard’s name that is written on the board, but she had help from others in. She credits much of her success to former sprints coach, Karl Klein.

Whichard claims that Klein, who resigned his position of coach last December, was the person who helped her the most in breaking the school record.

“He definitely always pushed me and talked to me and I knew he wanted to see me succeed,” Whichard said.

After all of the work Whichard put in and encouragement she received, she broke the record her sophomore year and had her name put on the board. It was one of the first major accomplishments of her track career.

“”It felt pretty good. I had been running track since fourth grade and had only ever accomplished personal records, so it was cool to add something else to my accomplishments,” Whichard said.

Any runner would be happy to say that they broke a school record, but Whichard was not only happy with her feat, she was proud of what she learned along the way.

The challenges and training that went into her track season resulted in much more than just a record. The effort she put in assisted her in developing important qualities that she has kept till this day.

“”The biggest take away from breaking the record is that I had to become a leader. I had to work harder to become a role model and leader,” Whichard said.

Although Whichard does not currently run on a track team she still carries the memories she made and lessons she learned during her seasons at AHS.

Most people know him as a normal person that lives an everday life, but Austin Rivas, a graduate of the class of 2013, is a record holder for three track events.

“I have broken the 300 meter dash at George Mason; which was at regionals my senior year, I ran a 49.01 second 400 meter dash senior year at Robonsin during regionals, and I hold a record for the 500 meter dash at George Mason during regionals my junior year.”

This to most athletes and some non athletes is a big accomplishment alone. These events are some of the most difficult races to run.

Rivas still tries to keep up with his daily workout routines, even though he may not be in regional qualifying shape anymore. Some might say it is due to the stress of college, but Rivas is still happy with where he is.

“I ran a year at the University of Virginia, but I did not want to pursue the athletic career as my academcis were getting to be more important, especially going to a school like UVA. I still try to stay in shape even though my times have dropped dramatically; now I run a  mile every three weeks and as you can see my mile time is now nine minutes,” Rivas said.

Even though he has graduated he has still stopped by from time to time to see how the track team has been improving and getting better.

“It is cool to come back and see where I started my high school career and where I also left it at the same time, it brings back a lot of memories for the season which is a little emotional,” Rivas said.

But it is not an end to the bond that Rivas has with the coaches  and some of the seniors that still run track at Annandale. Rivas also says that the competition is getting a lot more competetive and new records are being broken.

“I do have a job at Prince Georges county sports plex in Maryland for the past three years, it is good money for a job where you do very little , and I also see Annandale there from time to time so it is cool to see the coaches there, the competition of the runners and also the jumpers has increasingly gotten better with the amount of talent that is being shown in high school now,” Rivas said.

Having your name on the board in the jock lobby does come with a lot of responsibility, having been a role model for the next record breakers of Annandale. Also leading his pack or crew in the track meet trying to hypre them up as much as possible.

” Being well at track did ccome with advantages and more responsibility on my part. I was relied on a lot by the coaches and was trusted to lead everyone, and if something went wrong I was blamed for it. But it is really an experience and an honor to have my name on not one but three plaques down in the jock lobby where everyone  could see my accomplishments.”