Woodstock junior Will Sumner is making a name for himself, like his family before him.
Will Sumner went almost three full months without losing an event. If that was not impressive enough, he added to his resume April 17 at the McEachern Invitational, where he set a new county record in boys 400-meter dash with a time of 47.35 seconds. The previous record was 49.01 set by Woodstock alum Jabari Overton in 2019.
Sumner suffered his first loss of the season at the McEachern meet, placing second behind Allatoona’s Eric Young in the 200, and while his perfect mark was blemished in 200, he is still undefeated in the 400, 800 and 1,600.
Sumner’s success in the sport is not surprising given his family’s history.
His sister, Brynne, the 2019 Cherokee Tribune Female Athlete of the Year, was a five-time state champion for Woodstock in track and cross country, and she now competes at Villanova.
Oddly enough, Will Sumner was the one who inspired his big sister to pursue a track career.
“His sister was a gymnast in middle school, and he was running in youth track,” mother Tosha Sumner said, “so she came out to support her brother, which led to her interest in the sport. The rest is history.”
Will and Brynne are not the only track stars in the family.
Tosha Sumner and her husband, Brad, are Villanova graduates who earned All-American honors in track while in college. Brad Sumner ran in the Olympic trials in 1992 and ’96, and Tosha Sumner ran in the Olympic trials in 1996.
“We never pushed either of our kids to do track because we wanted them to be their own person. It just turned out this way, and it’s very interesting that they both gravitated to running track like their parents did,” Tosha Sumner said.
The family history impressive, but Woodstock coach Wakely Louis said Will Sumner’s defining characteristic is his work ethic and determination.
“He made a decision to train during the summer and took the initiative to be a better runner this year,” Louis said. “He ran several indoor track meets so he could be competitive for this year’s outdoor track season. The addition of a new sprint coach this year and a mid-distance coach last year has enhanced his overall development. With that being said, what makes Will Sumner different from other high school athletes is that he is mentally prepared for every race.”
Louis said that Sumner is at every practice and gives 110% each and every workout. He prepares rigorously before each race, which helps him mentally and physically in his meets
Tosha Sumner added that, because last season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, her son made it a point to train and work hard in preparation of the next season with the time he was given.
“Over the summer, he joined a group of local track athletes and trained with them, which really helped to push him to the next level,” she said. “He really blossomed as a sprinter and was able to increase his speed.”
Will Sumner said his goals for the rest of the season are to finish strong in his remaining events, and to run under 47 seconds in the 400.
Looking towards his future, he said he plans to have fun and enjoy his senior year. When asked about college plans, he said he wants to run, but whether that is at Villanova or somewhere else, he is not sure.