Baldwin County produces its share of successful athletes at the youth level. Established competitive sports teams through the recreation department routinely bring home the hardware.
A recent performance by a member of the Baldwin Jets youth track team at the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA) 6th District Class B/C Championship Meet Saturday, April 20 continues a county and family tradition.
Jalon Kilgore, 8, won five gold medals in the Sub-Bantam division’s 100-meter, 200, running long jump, and both the 4x100 and 4x400 meter relays.
The 4x400 victory stands out considering Kilgore came through for his teammates. The 8-year-old relay anchor saw open track and kicked up the effort to pass the event leaders.
“He was pretty far away, and I ran him down,” Kilgore said. “I was thinking that I have to push myself really hard to catch him.”
Jets’ coach Everett Havior calls Kilgore a hard worker with discipline.
Like his coach the young man hates to lose. The Jets train hard, which Kilgore seems to handle well at just 8 years old.
His athletic talents spread around baseball, football and basketball.
Havior said his track stud has such a good pitching arm that he’d like to see Kilgore try some throwing field events next year.
“Jalon can do more field events. He pitches the ball well, so I’m going to try and get him in the throwing events. I know he has a good arm,” Havior said.
Kilgore prefers the running events and the long jump.
“I like that I get to jump far and have fun,” he said.
Football gets Kilgore excited too. He could end up a Baldwin Braves gridiron star.
His family carries quite an athletic resume. Kilgore’s grandfather was an All-American in five sports at Fort Valley State.
Pastor James Kilgore said his son is in hot pursuit.
“He’s got a big dose of my dad in him. I know he’d be proud to see him right now,” Kilgore’s father said. “I’m glad to see him carrying on the tradition. The Lord blessed him with that gift.”
Two older brothers Gerald, 9, and James Jr., 12, help push Kilgore everyday. Their father couldn’t be prouder of the boys’ athletic pursuits, but lessons about respect carry more weight.
The family handles sports success humbly.
“I always tell them respect others and respect yourself. If you plant good seeds, it comes back to you. That humble attitude will come back to you. Talent only takes you so far,” Kilgore’s father said.
The youngest Athlete of the Week winner ever also makes all A’s and sings in the church choir.
Kilgore’s accomplishments help build quite a trophy collection back home though his parents are just as proud of frequent teacher compliments.
The Athlete of the Week and 19 other Jets advanced to the state meet in Carrollton May 10 through 11. The GRPA state competition will feature 56 teams and 2,500 athletes.
Havior expects Kilgore to challenge records in the long jump, 100 and 200.
The 8-year-old’s best attempt sits just three inches shy of the established running long jump record.
Track athletes must leap past adversity to reach mark goals. Local youth athletes like Kilgore are learning crucial lessons on the hard top.
“You are going to hit that wall of pain. Everybody that’s running is hurting, but it’s the person that can bust through that wall is going to come out a winner,” his father said.