‘I try to run faster’: Arvonia resident VonCanon sets records at HSC

Published 7:30 pm Sunday, April 14, 2024

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Sometimes, a break can work wonders. It seemingly did for Hampden-Sydney freshman and Arvonia resident Haden VonCanon. 

After competing in cross country, VonCanon elected not to run track — indoor or outdoor — during his senior year at Veritas School. In fact, for someone that has run cross country for 12 years consecutively, the desire waned. 

“I was not really interested in running anymore and kind of burnt out,” VonCanon said. 

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Yet, the passion was rekindled, thanks to Matt Griswold, head cross country and distance track coach in his sixth year at the helm of Hampden-Sydney. 

“I had a friend from high school on the Hampden-Sydney team who told the coach about me,” VonCanon said. “He reached out to me and knew I didn’t want to run, but asked if the coach could call me anyways. I told him that was fine,” 

The Arvonia resident said he considered that a turning point in his athletic journey. 

“After that call, I was committed to running here and it sounded like a cool place to run, different from high school, and from there I just ran,” VonCanon said. “I had some good guys push me and I’m back to where I was in high school.” 

Arvonia resident sets records

VonCanon was one of two Hampden-Sydney runners to set school records when the Tigers competed at the Blue and Silver Challenge last month. His record time of 2:03:32 in the 800-meter outdoor event placed third among 15 participants.

“It was pretty cool. I was not expecting to have that record and it’s something I can say I did,” VonCanon said. “It’s only a number, and who knows, on any Saturday, somebody could take it.” 

He added that rather than personal records, he’s focused on the success of the entire group. 

“We’re all getting better. It seems every single meet we’re having a lot of PR’s (personal records) and a lot of school records, which is awesome as a team,” VonCanon said. “If one of us gets a record, we’re all working to push each other to do that, so we all kind of feel accomplished because it’s a team sport.”

It has taken some time to get re-acclimated, yet there are also some differences VonCanon has had to balance out between cross country and track. 

“Running is a hard sport and a lot of people would not say it’s fun. It was hard to get back into it, but with indoor I think I’m starting to get back to my routine to where I was junior year of high school. With track, you’re doing a lot less of distance and the training reflects that,” VonCanon noted.

“Getting back into it all, it’s been a little bit of a routine. You’re going to do a lot of long runs in cross country. In track, it’s probably less long runs and shorter speed workouts to help your fast twitch muscles a little bit. Other than that, you’re running.”

Choosing a college

Above all else, the Arvonia resident credits his accomplishments to his support system, and in particular, the instruction he’s received.

“We have an incredible coach who really cares for our team. I think a lot of us would say we’re really. He really looks out for us. We’ll do long runs and he’ll have chocolate milk for us so we get a little bit of protein afterwards,” VonCanon added of Griswold.

“He’s very smart with the way he does his workouts. We have a very close, tight-knit team. A lot of us hang out with our teammates, and with us being very close with each other, I think that helps out our team success.”

When VonCanon was getting ready to select a college, he did not apply to a large amount of places, like so many prospects in various sports these days. In fact, he only submitted applications to a couple of places, Hampden-Sydney and Virginia Tech. 

There are no regrets about his choice.

Hampden-Sydney is incredible. I would never want to leave this school. Honestly, it’s better than I thought it would be,” VonCanon remarked. “It’s already building me up as a person. I’m a little bit of an introvert, but it’s making me less introverted being here. You’re involved at this school and everyone is looking out for you. I’m more than happy to be here and it’s more than what I expected.”

Glad to represent

After growing up in Sandston and spending the past couple years in Arvonia, VonCanon is glad to represent both his area and state. 

“I like Virginia and have lived here my whole life. I’m happy to be going to a Virginia school, especially a very old Virginian school. I would say I have a little bit of pride in that, too,” he said.

There are still some goals to achieve, and for this 5-foot-8, 137-pound athlete, it’s all about progress from day to day and event to event.

“Every meet I go to, I try to run faster. That doesn’t always happen, but that’s how you get better,” VonCanon said. “I’m hoping to run a little bit faster in the 800. I’m really hoping that the time I have will be enough to run the 800 in the conference,” stated VonCanon, a devout Christian who leans heavily on his faith. 

“I run for the glory of God.”