Walker Elrod becomes GIAA 2A State Champion

Published 12:00 pm Thursday, November 2, 2023

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Grace Christian Academy cross-country runner Walker Elrod became a state champion over the weekend.

Elrod finished first at the GIAA 2A State Championship Invitational with a time of 15:42.71 — more than 20 seconds faster than second place.

“I took the lead from about 100 feet into the race,” Elrod said. “I just went out there, did my best, ran hard, and got first.”

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Cougars head coach Heather Smith positioned herself at the 2-mile mark to coach/cheer on her team. She said Elrod ran by with a lead and that she was confident he would pull away.

“He was about five seconds ahead of second place,” Smith said. “He looked relaxed and comfortable, he wasn’t straining. The guys behind him looked like they were pushing it,… I kind of knew he was going to get through.”

Elrod Finished fourth in last year’s state and said that this year’s performance was a testament to his improvement not just during this season, but since the very next day after last year’s race. 

“Me winning the state championship,” Elrod said. “It wasn’t because I just started going to cross country practices in August, and I kept doing it until September, and now we’re here in November and I’ve been doing it. The reason I won a state championship is because I’ve been waking up every day at five o’clock since summer, and for three years in a row now.” 

The state championship win doesn’t mark the end of the season for Elrod. He will go on to race in the Georgia High School Meet of Champions. 

In the Meet of Champions, state-champion individual and team runners from every level and classification in Georgia are invited to race against each other. Elrod’s race at the meet starts at 9 a.m. in Fayetteville, GA on Nov. 11, 2023.