SportsStudent Athlete of the Week


Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week: Draven Fernandez

Draven Fernandez
Posted at 5:39 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 17:39:49-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (WTKR)- Salem cross country runner Draven Fernandez probably runs more in one week than some people drive. Running since he was young, the Sun Devil senior has become one of the best runners in Sun Devil history and is no stranger to pounding the roads and dominating the cross country course.

"I started running at an early age with my family," Draven recalled. "I did a lot of local races, like Shamrock, and I fell in love with the sport after I started doing it in high school."

After all of his experience, Draven has learned how to channel his energy during a race, and it's working. His personal best time of 16:34 was good enough to earn him the title of Beach District Champion and is the second-fastest time ever run by a Salem High School competitor. With two races remaining, assuming he qualifies for the state meet, he hopes to break the school record of 16:18.

"A lot goes through my mind," he said of a race. "Nerves a lot, but I really kind of stay focused and stay in the race as much as possible."

Cross country is different than sports such as football and basketball. Individual results are tallied together to determine a team score. You also don't have some of the verbal jarring you may see more frequently on other fields or courts.

"There's really not much trash talking," the senior noted. "You've kind of learned to get along with your opponents and you can learn to stick with them. There may be some trash talking sometimes, but usually it's all friendly."

Running has been Draven's passion for a long time. If his plans come to form, he has plenty of miles yet to run.

"I know his hope is to go to Lynchburg College or somewhere like that that has a good running program and find out what he's made of," said Salem head coach Roger Hopper.

"I hope to continue on in college and maybe make it professionally," added Draven. "I still love the sport, so even if I don't, I'll still be running on my own and still having fun."

Salem competes in the Region 5A championships on Saturday. His goal is to finish in the top three and qualify for the state meet, in addition to setting a new Sun Devil program record.

If you have a nominee for the Esprit Decor Student-Athlete of the Week, just send an e-mail to