MURRAY — Calloway County’s junior Aaron Fennel headed into this year’s track season with an abundance of confidence and two state championship titles under his belt.
As a sophomore, Fennel and his team won the state title for the 4X200m relay, and at the conclusion of this indoor season, he won a championship title of his own as he beat the school record for the 55m sprint with a time of 6.69 seconds.
Fennel was confident going into the indoor state meet — as he should have been. He was ranked second and trailed first by one tenth of a second. At the race, he gave it his all and came out on top.
“I thought I could do it, and I was happy that I did,” Fennel said.
Head coach of the Calloway County track team Mike Wicker is impressed with the amount of work that Fennel has been putting in since November and knows that he will be able to accomplish great things.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Fennel had been working out five days a week during the school day with the football team. After school, he headed straight to track practice, and then he even worked out after track. That’s three intense workouts each day.
“He’s so much stronger this year than he’s ever been,” Wicker said. “He’s always been a really solid sprinter. He’s got great form. He learned at an early age how to run and how to sprint.”
Fennel has been running long distances since elementary school and didn’t really begin to hone in on sprinting until the sixth grade.
That’s why he was able to be such a contributor to the 4X200 meter championship relay team.
“Even though I was a sophomore last year, I had been running longer than most of the other runners,” Fennel said.
“Especially Luke (Schwepker) and Jacob (Watters), they kind of looked up to me at practice.”
It was obvious that graduate Logan Curd was the team leader last season, but Fennel has taken on the responsibility to fill that role.
He wants to be able to motivate his teammates, especially new-comer Timarion Bledsoe who is a sophomore.
“I’d really like to get this team back together even though we lost Logan,” Fennel said. “He was a strong runner, but hopefully we can win again. I’d really like to lead the team, especially for T (Bledsoe); he needs some confidence right now.”
Wicker has already noticed that Fennel is showing a unique level of leadership to his team. He is not so much a vocal leader as he is a leader by example.
“If you gave me ten of him, we’d win state,” Wicker said. “He’s here every day and he works hard. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Someone who will be particularly motivated by Fennel is Schwepker. Schwepker is a senior with amazing athletic ability, but Fennel is right there with him.
Fennel holds all but two school records for sprints at CCHS, and he has made it his goal to obtain all of them by the end of his career.
If the spring sports suspension is lifted, Fennel and Schwepker will be battling for the 200m record time throughout this season.
“The question is, ‘Who will have it at the end of the season,” Wicker said. “And that’s a good problem to have. In-team competition is great to make both of them work harder. They’re friends and they’ll cheer each other on, but they also want to beat each other. It’s great. They’ll push each other.”
Fennel wants this record more than any other. The 200m sprint is his favorite contest.
“It’s a longer sprint, but it’s not as long as the 400m so I can sprint the whole thing and not die,” he said.
One of Fennel’s strengths is his endurance, and now that he has strength and confidence — he will be unstoppable.
“After winning state, he’s got the confidence that he needs to have a banner year,” Wicker said.
Besides the length of the season being cut, Fennel only has one blockade — his weight gain.
“I’m gaining muscle, but muscle is weight, and then I have to move that weight,” Fennel said. “Hopefully I can do it even faster than I did last year.”
But football has given Fennel the opportunity to practice moving that weight. He plays corner and slot receiver, two very quick positions.
“Football and track compliment each other,” Fennel said. “Football has a lot of footwork which helps with speed too. Being a sprinter is all about strength really. Distance is more about endurance and breathing. Sprinting is too, but the leg strength will help me a lot.”
And now that Fennel is coming fresh off of the 55m state win, he knows what he is capable of.
“It gives me motivation to see what I can do,” he said. “With that you can figure out what your times for other races should be and I should be ranked pretty high in the state. This year, I want to finish getting all of the sprint school records. I have two more to get and then I’ll have them all. And then another state championship hopefully.”
Fennel should have no issue completing either of these goals. Let’s just hope that the suspension is lifted and he gets the chance to compete.
However, Fennel is only a junior, and he will have another shot next season as well.