Veronica Voices Victory
by Cate Murway
Veronica’s love of running started with a two Wheeler, her parents, Karen Denise [Delaney], BHS ‘84 and John Taylor Wheeler, BHS ’83. Both were BHS runners and they continued their sport through college, John at Millersville and Karen at St. Joseph University. The Wheelers have encouraged their three children, Veronica, John Gabriel, HGP ’16 and Bridget Kathleen, a sixth grade St. Mark student, to run.
Veronica Renee Wheeler, Nazareth Academy ’14 started competing in track and field in the seventh grade, along with her best friend, Sarah Scanlin. Sarah’s father, Tim Scanlin was Veronica’s track coach. She began with the 800m and then bravely tackled the mile.
This Thursday's child has far to go and she is always diligently aiming for a most prestigious mark. What compels her to run as she does? “You don’t get what you wish for. You get what you work for.” Early athletics included ballet at the Carol Willson Dance Studio, then located in the Bristol Grundy Commons complex, and a stint of gymnastics.
Why venture out on a near daily basis, regardless of climate or place, and continually wage an on-going battle with the tarmac beneath her feet? “Running is really who I am now. It can literally take you places and it’s good for you.”
Cross Country and the 5K just may be her favorite sport. She competed in the Mill Street Run twice before High School. The AACA Championship course at Tyler Park is perfect for Veronica. “It has all the elements I like. It has lots of hills; I think I’m good at hills.” Veronica was awarded AACA First Team recognition.
At the prestigious Lehigh Paul Short Run in September, she won the Girls’ White race with a very respectable 19:41.0, taking the lead at close to the two mile mark.
Often, the incredible, frenzied and gloriously unpredictable landscape of athletics can be transformed into something decidedly calculated and equally dreary but not for Veronica. She loves the bonding of individuals who have become her dear friends based upon a commonly held passion. Wins and losses, team records and personal bests can overshadow the very essence of sporting competition but the people taking part in them is what is truly important.
Simplicity and independence are the foundations of this hard core sport for real athletes. “My summer workouts paid off. I trained at the Hawk Harrier Cross Country camp at St. Joseph University and I ran with my dad.”
For the last two years, Paul Samuel Peters III, Esq., Albright College/ Widener Law has been the head track coach at her Grant Avenue High School. “I love him. He is such a great guy. He’s supportive and is always proud of you whatever you do.” Coach Paul competed in High School and college and continues to run in marathons. “Veronica is an absolute joy to coach; very focused, determined and eager.”
Her sophomore year was her first year for Indoor Track. She competes in the 3000m and the 4x800/DMR relays with her Nazareth team in the DVGTCA League and at the New Balance Track & Field Center in the Armory, preparing for a very busy month of February. She set her 3000m personal best record at Lehigh University last week with an 11:11.26, and a season best mile of 5:49.37 at the Hill School Invitational.
Her goals are to compete in the DVGTCA Meet of Champs and to qualify to run on the impressive banked track at the Multi-Sport Facility & Horace Ashenfelter III Indoor Track at Penn State in the Pennsylvania PTFCA Indoor State Championships.
As in most sports, there are objective measures that can be used to show individual improvement. Veronica’s personal best outdoor 1600m is a praiseworthy 5:20 +.
Veronica complements her practice with wise choices related to nutrition, hydration and lifestyle. Her favorite food group is carbohydrates and she ritually dines on pasta and bread. “But I am a carnivore. I love meat!” Her favorite snack is popcorn and she shared that her mom is very good at baking and she “loves her Betty Crocker Angel Cake”.
Arts have attracted Veronica, as well as athletics. Music has muscle! She took piano and harp lessons from Gloria Galante, professor, director and creator of the harp program at West Chester University. “I really liked my teacher! She was always patient and made music fun.” Beethoven’s most popular composition, Für Elise is her favorite classical piece.
Professor Galante confirmed the mutual respect. “I just love Veronica Wheeler. She is a very amazing, lovely young lady with talent beyond compare in music and art and even her fingers and feet run just as fast in every arena. She is an Olympic skater in all those fields, a good role model and she makes Bristol so proud.”
Painting is also a passion. Veronica enjoys designing landscapes with watercolors and her favorite color is teal blue. “It’s a very pretty color, and the color of my room.” She remembers winning a contest in grade school once. “I have a painting of a candle that looks very realistic and it became symbolic for me when my Uncle Jimmy passed away.”
Her creative leanings include song. “It’s not developed but I like to sing.” Veronica especially likes vocals at the operatic in style high notes from Christine’s pieces in Phantom of the Opera.
Veronica’s scholastic aspirations include an NHS induction. Her favorite subjects are Chemistry and History. “I find Chemistry fascinating, just the fact that you can’t see it, but all this stuff is happening that you can’t see.” She especially appreciates “learning about American History and the important things that happened here.”
As for the Language arts, this is her 3rd year of French and “maybe someday I’ll get to go to France. I’d love to see the Eiffel Tower and taste the food.” For college, she wants to stay in Pennsylvania. “I would like to go to the University of Pittsburgh”. She intends to pursue her recent interest in PT and Sports Medicine.
But Veronica appreciates the small town feeling of historic Bristol on the Delaware. This is her family’s home and her maternal grandmother, Ellanna [Knoth] Delaney, BHS ’56 still resides here.
“I love Bristol. When I complete college, I’m coming back.”
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