They told her she needed to get back on track, and Donnesia Hunn is so glad she listened.
The Danville sophomore walked away from track and field after her eighth-grade year, but she has come running back this season.
Success has quickly followed, as Hunn has emerged as arguably the area’s top female sprinter. She won the girls 100- and 200-meter dashes Friday in Danville’s E.G. Plummer Invitational, just as she had done the previous week in the All “A” Classic, and she is setting her sights on success at next month’s regional and state meets.
“Each day I see some improvement in her,” Danville coach Sadie Gambrel said. “If she had stuck with it in eighth grade, she could’ve even been farther (along) than what she is, but it’s a learning experience.”
What Hunn has learned since she started to run again is that she can be pretty good at this sport.
“I am glad (I came back),” Hunn said. “I am actually surprised. I thought I would actually be slower, but my coach says I have improved.”
Hunn had joined the Danville volleyball team as an eighth-grader, and she decided to stick with volleyball and step away from track when she entered high school in 2010, even though she had had success on the track at the middle-school level.
But her sister, Candice Taylor, a two-time Class A girls long jump champion at Danville who is currently a jumper at Kentucky, tried to talk her into giving it another shot.
“My sister encouraged me to come back, and so I just decided to come back and run again,” Hunn said.
She said she also felt she had something to prove to Gambrel.
“I felt like I let my coach down, because she really wanted me to run again, so I decided to come back and show here that I was still the same ’Nesia,” she said.
So far, so good. Hunn said getting back in condition and battling some sore muscles were difficult when she resumed running in February for the first time in roughly 21 months, but she’s feeling fine now.
“I feel real comfortable still,” Hunn said. “It was kind of hard because I was really out of shape. I hadn’t ran in a long time. It took me a while to get back to where I am now.”
Where she is is at or near the front in the sprint races. You can easily pick her out thanks to the blue-and-white-striped knee socks she wears at every meet, which have become a part of her personal style.
But that’s not why she wears them. Hunn has scleroderma, an autoimmune disease that affects the skin, so she wears the socks to cover its effects.
“I don’t like to show it. I’m basically self-conscious about it,” he said. “I just like wearing my socks, plus I wear them in volleyball. I just like colorful things.”
Hunn’s best times in the 100, which she said is her strongest event, have been just under 13 seconds.
She said she believes she can continue to drop time and “most definitely” be a factor in the postseason, and Gambrel thinks so, too.
“We’re teaching her now how to run properly, and it’s coming along with her,” the Danville coach said. “She’s got the speed. And she’s having fun, and that’s what we want for all of them.”