WOODSTOCK -- Entering her senior season, there was not much Woodstock’s Brynne Sumner had yet to accomplish.
After capping her junior year with Class AAAAAAA state titles in the 800- and 1,600-meter runs, she added a cross country state championship in the fall of her senior season.
Still, Sumner entered her final semester with definitive goals.
“I really just wanted to have fun and enjoy my last year being at Woodstock with my teammates,” she said. “I really wanted to break the state record in the 800 and, obviously, defend my titles at state. Those were the main things I was worried about.”
Though she had plenty of experience winning titles, having to defend them was new for Sumner. The new position offered some new pressure, but by sticking to her normal routine, she was able to overcome it.
“It was kind of weird and stressful going in,” Sumner said. “I felt a lot of pressure to perform well. I just tried to relax, have fun with it and enjoy it. I just try to tell myself to stay positive and relax. I do the same running motion in practice every day. I just try to channel that. I treat every race like it could be my last and give it my all.”
Despite her previous success, Sumner found ways to improve in her senior season.
She dropped her state championship-winning 800 time to 2 minutes, 9.89 seconds, and while she added to her winning time in the 1,600, she more than doubled her margin of victory. During the season, Sumner also set a Georgia high school record in the 800 with a time of 2:07.77.
“I definitely work in a lot of speed work to cover all my bases,” said Sumner, the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. “You have to work on your sprinting, but you can’t forget the aerobic side. I just want to make sure I’m a well-rounded athlete. I do cross-training and get in the weight room. Overall, just being a good athlete is important. That makes a difference.”
Sumner’s continued improvement was bad news for athletes trying to run her down, as their presence only served to motivate the Villanova signee.
After edging Marietta’s Ani Henderson by .08 seconds in the 800 as a junior, Sumner beat Henderson by more than 3 seconds this season.
Henderson and Marietta teammate Ellie Hall were third and fourth behind Sumner in the 1,600 in 2018. Hall was also second behind Sumner in the cross country championship, and while both finished in the top five of the 1,600 again this season, neither could catch her.
“It’s fun,” Sumner said. “We’re all super kind to each other. They’re great athletes, and we like to hang out. On the track, it’s obviously super competitive, but we all make each other better. It’s a lot of fun.”
A new level of competition will await Sumner when she begins her career at Villanova in the fall. While she is unsure what the early days of her collegiate career will look like, Sumner is excited for the new challenges in Philadelphia.
“I’m just excited to meet with the team and build a strong bond with them,” she said. “It’ll be cross country season. It’s a huge team spot, so it’ll be a lot of fun. The team is really fast right now, so if I can just score, that would be awesome.”