Faces of Fauquier: Fast, focused and on a good track
“Ninety percent of track is mental,” says Tyler Benson, who earned a partial scholarship to run and study at George Mason University.
Everything about track intrigues me. I’m an extremely competitive person, and track is the most competitive sport I’ve ever played.
The teenager’s balance of athletics, academics and volunteerism have earned him statewide recognition.
Tyler Benson, who graduated Saturday from Fauquier High School, also received the Virginia High School League Group 4A Male Athlete of the Year award last week.
Based on athletics, academics and community involvement, the VHSL award goes to select students in each of the league’s six different divisions. The 4A Division has 52 schools from the mountains to Tidewater.
“He works hard, is very mannerly and has a good disposition on the track and in the classroom,” said Mark Bjorkman, FHS guidance director and assistant track coach. “He is just a great young man and for us, he has been such a (track team) leader in food, diet and hydration.”
Tyler called the award, which includes a $1,500 scholarship from the Allstate Foundation and a silver bowl, “probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever won.”
He has finished first 20 times in conference, regional and state track meets.
At the state indoor meet last winter, he set the 4A record with a time of 1:05:02 in the 500-meter run.
“That made me feel really cool,” Tyler said.
The sprinter also competes in the long and triple jumps.
“To run track and to do as well as I have, you have to be strong both mentally and physically,” Tyler said. “I think the biggest reward that has come out of it is through my training, being mentally tough. That is one of the hardest things to do in track. Ninety percent of track is mental.
“To me it’s a very nerve-racking sport. There are a lot of eyes on you and pressure.
He started running indoor track as a freshman at FHS to stay in shape for travel soccer. That year he made it to the state meet and decided to focus on track.
“It is tough. It is not as laidback as soccer was,” he said. “But the rewards — the mental toughness you get, the comradery. The team is so tight. I love my team to death. The family bonding and everything about the team was incredible.”
A dedicated student and athlete, Tyler would get out of class at 2:30 p.m., then put in 2-1/2 hours at track practice every weekday. One to two days a week, he coaches youth soccer, “probably one of my favorite things ever.”
Then, he heads to work at Cold Stone Creamery on Alexandria Pike in Warrenton.
“Track definitely consumes your life. If you are not eating, breathing and sleeping track, you’re not going to do well; so that’s a challenge,” Tyler said. “Not being able to eat anything I want all year is part of it, but worth it in the end.”
Tyler will attend George Mason University in the fall on a partial track scholarship. He hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity.
Youth soccer volunteer coach for U10 soccer and part-time referee with Warrenton Youth Sports Club for three years; Cold Stone Creamery in Warrenton for over a year.
• Why do you run track?
Everything about track intrigues me. I’m an extremely competitive person, and track is the most competitive sport I’ve ever played. I love the team. The work ethic . . . if you put in a lot of work, you’re going to see results. It’s an individual sport, but it’s also a team sport at the end of the day.
Grandparents, Sharon and Ed Benson; brother, Bryce; sister Kristal; mother in Colorado, Eryn.
Fauquier High School, 2016; Marshall Middle, 2012; P.B. Smith Elementary, 2008; C.M. Bradley Elementary, 2007.
• Civic involvement
National Honor Society member; vice president, Family Career Community Leaders of America.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
• Why do you live here?
We moved here to be closer to family.
• How do you describe this county?
It’s a weird mix between rural and city/town life. Fauquier County, if you go into certain parts has extremely ornate houses, and other parts are modest. It’s really diverse because it’s massive. You have a little bit of everything. I’ve really grown to love it. I love the people. This is a really nice in-between (country and city life). And it’s close enough to D.C.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I don’t want too much more development in Warrenton, but a couple more fun things to do. They took out the bowling alley. Put a movie theatre in and a couple more stores. I don’t want it to be overdeveloped . . . but more to do.
• What do you do for fun?
I love running 5-Ks, playing basketball and soccer, Ultimate Frisbee, running Tough Mudder mud runs, hanging out with friends and going to the movies. Going on dates with my girlfriend, playing video games.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Chestnut Forks Swim Club. I used to go there and hang out with my friends all the time.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I think it will be more industrialized like Manassas. I don’t want to see it happen, but I feel like it will happen.
• Favorite TV show?
• Favorite movie?
“I am Legend” and “Creed.”
• Favorite book?
The Harry Potter series.
• Favorite vacation spot?
The beach at Ocean City, Md.
• Favorite food?
If I did not have to worry about track . . . chicken potpies and Duck Donuts.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
Don’t be in awe of competition, the people who I race against in track. If I’m in awe of them . . . I need to focus on I belong here as well.
• Who’s your hero and why?
Chuck Williams. He has been there since the first day of track. He is a mentor. He used to work at On the Run Sports and he announces our track meets. He has been there every step of the way, always supporting me, always following what I’m doing. I’m forever grateful to him. He is incredible.
• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
Give my family some money and spend a ton on me and my girlfriend. Buy a car and a watch for my collection and probably save some, but probably not. Keep my job, definitely.
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