State Champion: Walker Elrod wins GIAA 2A 3200m state title with first place-finish in finals

Published 2:56 pm Saturday, April 27, 2024

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Grace Christian Academy runner Walker Elrod is now a state champion.

The Sophomore track star secured the 3200m state title with a first-place finish at the GIAA 2A state championship meet. He clocked a time of 9:42.20, finishing 26 seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

“I knew I could do it,” Elrod said. “I knew I had to be confident, and I was confident coming out here.”

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Elrod jumped out to an early lead and maintained a 50-100 meter buffer for most of the race. He had so much room that he, at one point, took a beat to look behind him and asses the distance he had gained. 

Securing the initial lead was a priority for Elrod. He said Trinity Dublin Christian School’s Nolan Lane, the race’s second-place finisher, could have made the race difficult if he let him hang around. Elrod raced against Lane in last year’s state championship, finishing two spots behind him.

“I knew that [Lane] had a chance,” Elrod said. “So I wanted to kind of blow him out of the water in the first mile.”

Elrod also competed in the 1600m and 800m races at the state meet. He finished state runner-up in the 1600 with a 4:25.63 — 13 thousandths of a second behind Nolan. Elrod came in 7th in the 800 with a time of 2:07.91.

“I’m a two-mile runner,” Elrod said, joking in reference to the 800

With a track state championship under his belt, Elrod said his next goal is winning the state title for cross country.

The Cougar runner made it to the 3200m championship after winning the GIAA Region 3-2A title in the event a week prior and tacks both titles onto an already massively successful regular season. Elrod recorded a 9:25 time in the 3200m race at an FSU meet on March 25th, setting a new fastest time in Bainbridge City history. The sophomore broke the record of Bainbridge High School runner Poncherella Leonard, who clocked a time of 9:33.25 in 2016 

Leonard holds the majority of distance running records in the town’s history, and  Elrod has replaced him twice in the record books this school year. He broke Leonard’s cross country 5k record of 15:56 after running a 15:32 in the fall season.

“When I was younger and joined the cross country team, I asked, ‘So, what’s a good time?’” Elrod said. “They were like, ‘Well, this one kid named Poncherella, he’s the fastest, and it’s never going to get better. He’s the fastest ever and the best to ever do it.’” Now, when that conversation comes up… My name’s going to get brought up.”