Salute to Seniors: Vennise Shelton

Before the class of 2020 makes their final farewells to high school cross country and track and field, we want to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time!FLRunners invites all seniors to tell their stories from the past four years.

Today we salute Piper HS, Vennise Shelton.

What was your memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?
My memorable race would be Cross country Regionals my senior year. It has only been a few weeks since I came back to running. At the beginning of my Senior year, I was playing varsity volleyball and training for the upcoming track season. That race at Regionals made me who I am today. I wasn't in complete shape, but I managed to qualify for a spot in Regionals. One of my coaches had a talk with me over the phone before my race about a new strategy. He told me I can do it, and how I made it this far, and I'm not even fully in shape as my other competitors. That did not stop me though. I still managed to run my best, stayed up with my amazing teammate, Amyah Petit-Jeune. Since my Sophmore year to senior year, I always seem to struggle with knowing my potential when it came to running. As the gun went off everything changed. It's like a huge weight came off my shoulders. I've run at this park plenty of times so nothing was new to me, but my race strategy. I managed to Pr, though I did not qualify for state championships. That day changed everything. From my training, personal life, and my performance.

Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Someone who I would consider my biggest competition over the last four years would be myself. Like I said earlier in this interview I've battled with knowing my full potential, and what I can do on the track when it was time to perform. In training, I was always put into groups that I can keep up with depending on the workout whether that's running with mid sprinters or the boys. My coaches knew my potential before I did. I would sometimes be the rabbit when training. No matter what I loved coming to training every day because I knew my coaches would give me the best workout to train my mind to get stronger as my body did every day. As I trained smarter, and not harder, and focused mainly on myself and my plan for this season. I managed to defeat my old self that was no longer the runner I am today.

What was your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment would be my first official meet at Louie Bing in February 2020. I was the first leg for the 4x800 meter relay. I wasn't nervous, but I was ready. This was what I've been training for. This is all I thought about when I would go to training, eat dinner, and even go to school. I would have a countdown from the last Louie Bing to the one for next season. I ran a phenomenal first leg. Less than 30 minutes later it was time for the 800m race, and I was in the first heat. I may not have won my heat, but I was running with girls who were ranked higher than me, but I didn't let that affect me. The gun went off, I ran. I could hear the crowd shouting really loud. I muted them out, and only turn my nearing for my coaches who were telling and my teammate the strategy as we were running. All I could hear is "You gotta go V" "Cover more ground" "It's the last 150m mama" Coach Dave said as I was finishing the race in 4th place.
I've never run a fast opening at the beginning of the season. I knew this season was going to be great.

Who would you consider your biggest role model over your four years competing?
I have more than one person in mind. I have four. My mom, Coach Dario, Coach Dave, and Coach Spann. My mom has always been by my side when it came to running as she uses to run for her county at the same age as me. Coach Dave was like and still is like an uncle I never had. Always supporting me to be more than just an athlete. Always told me to focus on academics as far as being able to go to any school of my choice stress-free. Coach Dario was like and still is a track father. He would play Gospel music in the car, and tell us how we are phenomenal athletes, pretty much gives the girls team pep talks before our race, and giving us race strategies before we go. He's quiet, but he knows what he's doing all the time. Coach Spann is like a track mom to me. She's so supportive of anything you do. She's a helping hand when I didn't know I needed until when I trained with her last year. She opened my eyes and opened many opportunities for me as I trusted her with my training, as she is one of the people who changed my mindset as an athlete and a person.

If I could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?
If I had the change anything about my runner career in high school I wouldn't. Everything happens for a reason. Every moment I take I take it as a lesson that I learned.

What will I miss the most?
I will miss the old track team Piper had back in 2018-2019 when we would have dance battles in the weight room while working out, throwing water balloons at practice, playing our music at the meets, and dancing. Just basically having a really good time training with my teammates during that time. Also winning with them it felt good leaving with a team trophy, and a PR knowing that we made our coaches proud, but we had more work to do.

What advice would you give to younger athletes?
The advice I would give to younger athletes would be is, have fun. Running should be something you should enjoy. It builds you into a great person. It teaches you about being humble when having nothing such as ranking to being #1 in the country in your event. Also, listen to your coaches. They know what's best for you.

What are your post-high school or college plans?
Well, I am officially done running as a high school athlete. It was bittersweet, and the memories were worth a laugh. As I move onto better things and opportunities. I am going to The University of Mount Olive in North Carolina. I will be running cross country and track. As I signed and committed last month. #GoTrojans

Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?
I would like to say thank you to everyone who doubted me. People who wouldn't think I would get this far in the story I created. This is the only beginning in this chapter called "Redemption". God blessed me with the talent to run, so I'm using what he blessed me with. I would like to say thank you to my coaches that I've worked with Coach Dave, Coach Ro, Coach Spann, Coach Wiz, Coach Pat, Coach J.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Count all of your blessings. Despite small or big. Don't feel like your small progress isn't any progress at all. A new day is a new grind. Get better each day before it's too late that's what COVID-19 taught me.