DAMASCUS, Va. (WJHL) — In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Quaheim Brooks, a senior football and boys basketball player at Holston High School.
This is another opportunity.
Track athletes lost their season last year. For those seniors, it’s sad to think they’ll never get that back, and the underclassmen were just ready to get back out there.
“You just don’t have any choice you have to take it as it goes the kids were very upbeat they stayed positive they knew it wasn’t going to last forever that they were going to get a chance to compete,” Daniel Boone head track & field/cross country coach Len Jeffers said.
One of Daniel Boone’s returning athletes is Patricia Chelleh, a senior who also runs cross country.
“It’s really exciting because we kind of got deprived last year my junior year and so we really had to work really hard during the summer and just discipline ourselves to get out there every day,” Chelleh said.
Chelleh has been running since her freshman year, when she had the experience of a lifetime.
“Her freshman year she was part of the 4×800 relay team with two of her sisters one was a sophomore one was a senior and they placed 3rd at the state championship broke numerous school records,” Jeffers said.
“We had to do our best we each had to get out on the track and run our best times because we were working together and it was just amazing to see what we could do,” Chelleh said.
Her older sister Maria now runs on scholarship at Lincoln Memorial and the second oldest Judy competes at Tusculum.
“My sisters and I are extremely competitive especially with each other we like to push ourselves to do better of course and when it comes to games and even school we’re really competitive so being on the same cross country and track team it was fun to see but we could also push ourselves to do better,” Chelleh said.
“Very special, very unique, you get your brothers and sisters or two of them but to have 3 and all 3 on the team at the same time was really unique and a great opportunity for them,” Jeffers said.
Even more unique is she credits this experience to her parents, who moved from Zambia, Africa to the United States before she was born, shortly after Maria was born.
“Moving here was a great opportunity and I’m so fortunate especially to my parents I’m so thankful for them they’ve done a lot to encourage me and my sisters just to tell us that coming here was for us and they wanted us to have the best experience possible,” Chelleh said.
“It’s special to have them here in this community watched them when they first came to the area running in middle school track meets so we always look forward to getting them up here and it’s been a pleasure,” Jeffers said.
The Chelleh family has brought more than trophies and records; brought diversity and made such a positive impact in this community.
“It can be welcoming to other people especially so they can see that we’re welcoming to a lot of people and different backgrounds and things and it’s really unique,” Chelleh said.
“It’s been a great family great set of sisters and really hate to be on the last one but all we can do is make the most of it and enjoy it while we’ve got her here,” Jeffers said.
What an experience for her to get to wear the same uniform with her two older sisters.
“It’s like a legacy that we’re leaving because we got to do so much here and we got to set a record for the school in the 4×800 so it’s really nice to leave that behind and hopefully someone will be it so we can continue to get better,” Chelleh said.
“There’s so many similarities but they each have their own strengths and weaknesses her attitude and composure has been a big asset for her actually her nickname is “smiley” because she always has that smile always presents a pleasant attitude,” Jeffers said.
Now she’s blazing her own trail, and doing so with a pretty cool nickname.
“Her freshman year she would never speak you could never get her to say anything she’d just smile her sisters would do all the talking and she would just smile,” Jeffers said.
Now she’s ready to have a big time senior year.
“I mostly run the 4×400 and the 4×800 even though I’ve competed in the mile my 800 goal is to run sub-220 so I’m hoping to accomplish that this year before I go off to college,” Chelleh said.
She’s headed to Milligan University but isn’t sure if she will run at the next level. She received the prestigious Betty Goah Diversity Scholarship and plans to pursue the nursing program. Even if she doesn’t compete at the next level, she does have a leg up on her older sisters with the history she made in cross country.
“She was the first cross country female here that has run all 4 years in the state cross country championships and she also made all conference all 4 years in cross country,” Jeffers said.
“Yeah my freshman year it was really nerve-racking but I was so glad to go with my fellow teammates,” Chelleh said.
This Boone program has accomplished a lot in its history, and getting back out here this spring is a big moment too.
“I know she’s excited to compete this season and finish out the season as well as we can it’s gonna be fun to see how it unfolds,” Jeffers said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.