Peyton Chaney needs a bigger door. Nerinx Hall’s senior standout speed merchant has accumulated a multitude of awards, medals, plaques and other baubles for her impressive work on the track. The fruits of her labor hang on the closet door of her bedroom. She’s lucky that door hasn’t fallen off the frame with all that extra weight. “They’re all hanging off there,” Chaney, 17, says. “There’s no more room.”
For her senior picture, Chaney tried to adorn all her medals and found they wouldn’t fit around her neck. Instead, she had some around her neck and the rest hung from her arms as she extended them from her sides. She looked like an eagle with its wings spread.
While her door might be out of room, that doesn’t mean the 5-foot-3 Chaney is done collecting awards—not even close. The most precious of her medals have yet to be won. Those would come Memorial Day weekend at the state track meet in Jefferson City. Already a state champion in the 200 meter dash and a state medalist two times over in the 100 and 400, Chaney is out to end her senior season with a bang. This spring her best times have put her among the region’s best. She’s second in the 100 (11.73 seconds), 200 (24.20 seconds) and 400 (56.53). All are good times that are right on the heels of the competitors in front of her. But, Chaney says we have yet to see her at the peak of her powers. “Districts, sectionals and state, that’s when I run my best times,” she says. “I want to be seeded well and I’m definitely working my butt off.”
Work has never been a problem for Chaney. Blessed with an abundance of genetics, her brother Paul was a Missouri champion sprinter at St. Louis University High and would go on to play football and run track at University of Iowa. But Peyton never rested on her laurels. Instead, she works tirelessly. It was when she couldn’t put in the work that she was most upset.
Last summer, just a few weeks removed from helping the Markers to a third-place finish at the Class 4 state meet, Chaney’s foot started to bother her. She had it checked out and it was discovered she had a stress fracture. The doctor strongly urged her to forgo her summer track season to let the injury fully heal. It was a devastating blow for Chaney who was going to be unleashed on a national stage in front of countless college coaches. “It got to me, too. I love summer track,” Chaney says. “I was crushed. I had to come back, better than ever.”
That she did. This winter, Chaney won national indoor championships in the 200 and 400. That caught the eye of University of Virginia, which invited her out for an official visit to campus. Chaney immediately felt comfortable at Virginia. The academics and athletics were on point, and the coaching staff and team did everything it could to give her a top-notch experience. “I told the coach, Sign me up!” she says with a laugh. “When I got there, I knew it was where I was going to be.” Before she gets there, though, she has a few more medals to collect.
Chaney and the other Markers will begin on the path to state with the district meet Saturday at Marquette. Chaney, for one, is hoping she has some company at the final meet of the season. “We can be state competitors,” says Chaney, who’s also the team captain. “I take everybody under my wing. I love them all.”