Wednesday, June 7, 2023
By: Donovan Peyton, 2022 Male Recipient of the Amy Schuerholz Metz and Charm City Run Scholarship presented by Saucony
My running journey started in middle school when I would compete in the fitness testing and would break all the records for my age. Seeing that I had a natural talent, I began running on my own and thought about high school cross country and track and field. I even joined a middle school running club to enjoy running and spending time with my friends. Once my sister and I decided to attend the Science and Mathematics Academy (SMA) at Aberdeen High School, running was the last thing on my mind because I wanted to stay focused on my grades and getting ready for basketball, which was my main sport. Nonetheless, I trusted my gut feeling to pursue running and ran Cross Country in the fall. Throughout the season my natural talent was on full display, and I realized that with further training I could run in college. Similarly, to my freshman Cross Country season, track was also a huge success. In both sports I qualified for states and built lasting relationships with my coaches and other athletes for future years.
My sophomore year, my Cross-Country times improved and again, I was more motivated to focus on running. Unfortunately, two weeks before our first track meet, Covid 19 forced schools to teach students virtually. Not being able to practice every day after school had a mental and physical impact on teenagers across the country. Running had been an outlet, and a stress reliever for me every day after long days of school. Like other runners, I had to dedicate time to running on my own. I chose my neighborhood and using my Fitbit, I planned out workouts that had varying distances to simulate regular high school practices. In addition to my own workouts, my teammates and I would have team runs where we would all be motivated and push each other to continue running during lockdown.
Senior year was when I finally started seeing the results of my early high school and Covid training. After not being able to compete for a year, I felt driven and motivated to prove myself to my coaches and team. In Cross Country, I made First Team-All County and qualified for states, which were my two goals from the beginning of freshman year. A bigger accomplishment in track and field was going to New Balance Nationals for the 4×800 relay. From the very beginning of senior year, me and the other relay athletes knew that we could do something special. Throughout the season, various physical and mental obstacles almost led to scrapping the 4×800 team. At regionals, even though we barely made the qualifying standard, we still maintained our trust in our training and confidence that we could persevere and make it to nationals. At states, our relay team ran a 12 second personal record, dipping just below the 8:00 min mark, which was enough to qualify for nationals, which was the main goal for the year.
Every time I think of running, I have to smile. It has taken me so far when at the beginning of freshmen year, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy running. Through running I’ve met older and younger people I consider my closest friends. I’ve mastered balancing extracurriculars on top of academics. I’ve instilled discipline and perseverance through the training I had to do during Covid. Most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of stress relieving activities and how running can be one of the most individual, peaceful, hobbies, but also a competitive, painful, and rewarding experience.
Winning the Amy Schuerholz Metz scholarship presented by Saucony has affirmed the benefits I have received from running. This scholarship showed me that the motivation and hard work I dedicated to running can be used as an example for other high schoolers. I encourage all people to enjoy the advantages of running even if it is just to stay in shape or to competitively race against other runners.