Track & Field
Favorite athlete: Allyson Felix
Favorite team: Lakers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning my first national title in the 400m at ESPN SPORTS. Against the person I lost to the year before, and after I missed the finals the year before. I realized how much I love track & field.
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: falling on my face at districts in the 100h.
Music on playlist: R&B, rap, and 90s best hits
Future plans: To compete for the University of Miami and win the ACCs.
Words to live by: “If you believe in you, it doesn’t matter who else does.”
One goal before turning 30: Compete at the Olympics.
One thing people don’t know about me: I love to draw and write poems
By GORDON GLANTZ
When your last name is Hebron, running track is kind of like the family business.
Let us count the ways:
- Vaughn, Jr., was a high school hurdler at Dover High in Delaware and a football player who went on to do the latter at Lafayette.
- Seloni Hebron ran the 400 and 800 for Neshaminy and continued running at Morgan State.
- Savaughn Hebron was on the state-winning 4X400 at Neshaminy before moving on to Kutztown.
- Savion Hebron, Savaughn’s twin, was on Neshaminy’s state-winning 4X400, the 200M indoor state champ and now runs at Penn State.
If the surname Hebron sounds familiar, that’s because the family patriarch is Vaughn Hebron, Sr., who played in the NFL with the Eagles and then won two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos.
This brings us to the baby of the brood, Sanaa Hebron, who says she never felt it was required to join the family’s assembly line of track standouts.
“I wasn’t pressured at all,” she said. “I actually played soccer for eight years. My really close friend at the time started running club track. When I quit soccer, I thought I would give it a try, and I just stuck with it.
“I’m glad I did, but I was never pressured into it. It kind of just happened.”
The skillset, though, was never in doubt.
“I first saw Sanaa run in eighth grade,” recalled Neshaminy coach Syd White. “She was, obviously, very talented. She had become one of the better runners in the state very early in her career.”
As far as Vaughn, Sr., White has enjoyed the partnership.
“We have worked together for a long time,” said White. “This is the fourth (of his five) children that I have coached here at Neshaminy.”
At the PIAAA Class AAA State Championships recently, Hebron captured gold in the 300-meter hurdles and silver in the 200-meter dash. Now that the dust has settled on her scholastic career, Hebron will compete in the national U20 meet (with a chance for World U20 Meet in Colombia) and then move on the University of Miami.
“My college search was a really long process,” said Hebron. “It was between the University of Miami and UNC. Academically, they are all really prestigious colleges. What it really came down to was to the connection I had with the coaches. I felt they could best help with the type of path I’m going on with track.”
That path would be her ultimate goal of the Olympics, and the Miami coach, Amy Deem, specializes in hurdles and coached the hurdlers in the 2012 Olympics.
It is a lofty goal but not out of the realm of possibility.
“She is naturally gifted with speed, but she has made herself into one of the best runners in the country, in terms of the hurdles as well,” said White. “That’s a lot of credit to her, and also to the work her dad has done with her as well.”
Despite her scholastic success as a hurdler, Hebron believes she is just scratching the surface, as she has not been doing it for that long.
“It was kind of out of nowhere,” she recalled. “Training-wise, I was running 800s to help with my 400s. I was supposed to run all out, but I didn’t want to die. My dad suggested I try to the 400 hurdles because you are still going 400 meters but going over things. I was good at it, so I just kept doing it.”
From there, everything just started falling into place.
“I had to learn more with technique and stuff,” she said. “I think I still have a long way to go. I think my technique can be a whole lot better than what it is. But, definitely, I have grown a lot but also have a lot to still learn.”
When she gets to college, where the workouts – on and off the track – will be more intense, they won’t come as a total shock.
Hebron’s father has long-since been putting her through the paces that go above and beyond what is mandated by the high school coaches.
“It’s very hard, with all different types of workouts and what-not, with recovery and stuff like that,” she said. “I call him my ‘doach,’ because he is my dad and my coach.”
Added White: “He’s a real taskmaster. It’s amazing to see her do the routines that he sets out for her.”
Taking a Detour
Hebron spent one season at the George School, came back to public school at Neshaminy for 10th grade but had her career stymied by COVID.
“COVID was a very clear stopping point,” she said. “It was in the middle of our season.”
For Hebron, though, it allowed her to fully recuperate from a back injury that happened around the time of the indoor state meet, causing her to scratch out of all her events after running the 60M was too painful.
“I guess it was kind of a blessing in disguise,” she said. “I had the chance to not rush my recovery.
“But, from March to the summer, it was really difficult. I was training, but there were no meets in our area. I had to travel. I traveled once to Georgia and once to Florida to run.”
And it taught her a valuable lesson.
“I realized how much love I had for the sport,” said Hebron. “I really missed it. It made me even more hungry for my junior year.”
From his perspective, White could still see the toll it took on not just Hebron, but all his athletes.
“It’s been a challenge, with the pandemic and all of that,” he said. “The past couple of years have been a challenge for all athletes, and Sanaa is not an exception, except maybe she is more driven to continue working on her own.”
In the time she has away from training and running, Hebron enjoys anime and writing poetry.
“I really do love to write poems,” she said. “I kind of picked it up in 10th grade, when I took creative writing. They are really short, but I also think they can be real powerful.”
Hebron, takes two AP classes (Psychology and Spanish) and honors English and carries a weighted GPA of 3.6. She is looking at becoming a registered nurse.
“When COVID happened, I started doing more research and realized how much nurses are needed in this day and age,” she said. “It was interesting to me, and I always like to help people.”
Leading the Way
Although track is an individual sport, one in which she is convinced is more mental than physical, Hebron had made sure to give back to her younger teammates as a leader.
It is a role she takes seriously, especially as a senior.
She remembers herself as that soccer player transitioning to track.
“I see myself as a leader, just because I know what it’s like to be new to the sport,” she said. “In track, once you are used to it, you are used to it. But, in the beginning, it’s such a different atmosphere. I try to be a leader, in the sense that I try to give a different outlook to people.”
White is grateful for her contributions to the team as a guru of sorts.
“She is a very nice young lady, very personable,” the Redskins’ coach said. “Sanaa mostly leads by example. She sets the tone for the rest of the team by what she does on the track.
“She works incredibly hard. I was watching her warmup at districts. It would almost kill some of our other runners to do what she does as a warmup.”
As she prepares to move on to run the next lap in her career, Hebron knows she did not get there alone.
“I especially want to thank my parents (mom is Kim Bryant), my siblings and my best friend (Villanova-bound runner Micah Trusty, currently at Friends Central),” she said. “I also want to thank everyone in my life, everyone played a role in everything that I’ve done so far.”