Track & field athletes reflect on canceled state meet

State championships would have wrapped up Saturday if not canceled for COVID-19

Track & field athletes reflect on canceled state meet
The state track and field championships would have wrapped up Saturday if not for the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: WTOC)

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Grady Koppock fulfilled a lifelong dream Friday, signing to run track and cross country at Presbyterian College.

“My parents, this school, everybody that’s ever been around me pushed me, and it’s paid off,” Koppock said Friday. "To be able to do something like this is just really special. It’s just a great honor.”

But even while signing his name to that letter of intent, the Raider standout should’ve been somewhere else that day: competing for a state title.

It’s something he admits he’s tried to forget.

“I just kind of pushed it out of my head," he laughs. "As soon as they canceled the season, I just tried not to think about it too much.”

On the day he should have been competing for a state title, Savannah Christian's Grady Koppock signed to run at Presbyterian College.
On the day he should have been competing for a state title, Savannah Christian's Grady Koppock signed to run at Presbyterian College. (Source: WTOC)

The future runner for the Blue Hose admits he’s let it go. Koppock didn’t know the added significance of the date of his signing day until told.

But he adds there’s still a lingering feeling from having a potential championship taken away.

“I’m a very goal oriented person. All you think about is that state meet and especially that competition," he says. "You always wonder what if after all the training.”

No state track and field champions were crowned in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
No state track and field champions were crowned in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Source: WTOC)

Those what-ifs are familar to plenty of other athletes who saw their seasons cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially Richmond Hill’s Kayla Gholar.

Richmond Hill standout Kayla Gholar wasn't able to defend her 1600m run state title in 2020.
Richmond Hill standout Kayla Gholar wasn't able to defend her 1600m run state title in 2020. (Source: WTOC)

The Wildcat star is the defending Class 6A state champion in the 1600 meter run. She says not being able to defend that title in what should have been her final high school race left an incomplete feeling.

“It was more I just didn’t know what to do. We didn’t get an actual ending," she says. "We kind of went out with a fizzle instead of a bang.”

Neither Koppock or Gholar have run their final race though. Gholar is headed to Tennessee, while Koppock is off to Presbyterian.

Both say that offers some comfort on how their season ended, as well as some perspective.

“It’s something for me to look forward to," Koppock says. “And just remember in the back of my head that it could always be worse.”

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