Athlete Of The Week For 10/11-10/16: Parker Shonka

This week’s Athlete of the Week is Parker Shonka ’23 from the varsity boys’ cross country team. Parker has run cross country for the Trojans for the last four years. As a seasoned veteran of the sport, Parker was selected as a co-captain of this year’s team.

Last week, Parker and his teammates competed in the Milestat Invitational at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville. With 41 teams from four different states, it was the largest meet of the season. Parker recognized that many of his teammates had never competed on the Milestat 5K course before so he made sure his team was ready by familiarizing them with the course in addition to leading team warmup.

For this race, the Trojans were challenged by their coach with an aggressive first-mile pace in contrast to previous races this season. The athletes were assigned to a running group and were given strict instructions by Coach Faykes to run the first mile at the target pace with their assigned teammates. Parker was assigned to the team’s fastest group with junior Jake Falcone and freshman Brody Cox.  The three athletes nailed their first mile pace of 5:50. This is an impressive feat as they were the only group to run the first-mile pace to the exact second of the goal pace. This is a testament to their athletic ability, mental discipline and teamwork. 

Parker and his teammates did their best to pick up the pace for the second mile, but the heat and wind posed a challenge. In the third mile, Parker dug deep to find his speed and accelerated into the lead position for the Trojans and finished the race in 29th place out of 301 athletes with a time of 18:12. Parker led the Trojans to a seventh-place finish, the highest placing the Trojans have ever had at Milestat and it is the first time ever that the varsity Trojan boys have finished in the top 10 at this meet.

This week, the Trojans will compete in the Nansemond-Suffolk Meet on Thursday, Oct. 21.

Congratulations Parker, and Go Trojans!