Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Editor's note: Each week, The Wake Weekly will honor a local high school senior athlete who put in years of work in a sport, but who may not finish their final season after COVID-19 caused spring sports to be postponed.
WAKE FOREST - This week's student-athlete of the week is Heritage track and field athlete Danny Renard.
The senior sprinter grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and moved to Wake Forest before his sophomore year of high school. Renard started out at Wake Forest High School and then transferred to Heritage during the second semester of his sophomore year.
Since then, Renard has been involved with the school's track and field program. Over the years, he has evolved into one of the greatest track runners Heritage has ever produced.
"I started competing in track and field in eighth grade when my middle school gym teacher pulled me out of a group activity and she told me I should come out for tryouts for the school," Renard said. "I like seeing myself progress as an athlete. I like seeing the improvement in myself. I connected to a lot of people at track meets. I like the improvement aspect of it the most."
Renard is the first track and field state champion in Heritage school history. This past winter, he won the 4A indoor track and field state championship for the 500-meter run. Renard ran a time of 1:04.92, which was the best time in the state and the eighth best time in the country.
His personal record for the indoor 400-meter dash is 49.32 seconds. In the indoor 300-meter dash, his personal best is 35.13 seconds.
Renard also competes in the high jump. For indoor, his record is 6-feet-6-inches. For outdoor, it's 6-feet-10-inches.
In outdoor track, Renard's personal best for the triple jump is 45-feet-5-inches. In the 400-meter dash, he was the 4A state championship runner-up in 2019 with a time of 48.55 seconds. His all-time best for the 200-meter dash is 22.47 seconds.
"Danny is a tremendous athlete with unusual versatility," Heritage track and field head coach Dee Todd said. "He's a long sprinter, jumper and can short sprint. He works very hard and has a great attitude. He has been a pleasure to work with."
Renard was looking forward to take another crack at the 400-meter dash in this year's state championship. However, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association shut down the spring sports season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renard remembers when he first heard the news that his senior year was over.
"It was heart-breaking," Renard said. "We were at practice. Our coaches told us about it. We were told to train as if we were coming back. When they said we weren't coming back at all, it was a lot to take in. I didn't get to accomplish as much as I wanted to. The improvement I wanted to fill was not there anymore. I was broken down."
Despite missing his senior year, Renard still has plenty to look back on. He has left behind a phenomenal track and field career as the greatest track athlete Heritage has ever seen.
Renard is still proud of the fact that he is the school's only track and field state champion after his memorable performance at the 4A indoor track and field state championship earlier this year.
"Winning the state championship was a long process," Renard said. "I only ran the 500-meter twice that entire season. It was weird when I showed up for the state meet for that event. I'm used to running the 300-meter. I let people past me, so I can save my energy. I was impressed with my performance because I had some pain in my left knee and I still won. It was an amazing feeling to win. Being the first track athlete to win a state title is a good feeling."
Renard intends to continue his track and field career at St. Augustine University where he will major in sports management. He plans on accomplishing more with the time that has been given to him.
"I hope to go pro one day," Renard said. "I want to stay around sports my whole life."