When Garon Jackson was in the fifth grade at Lemira Elementary School, he had to perform a fitness test in physical education. That's when he first found out that he could run long distances in a short period of time.
"My coach said that I had a …
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"My coach said that I had a time that would qualify for state at the high school level," Jackson said.
And thus the stage was set for an outstanding high school and collegiate career as a track and field distance runner and as a cross country runner in college. Jackson won the 1995 4A state title in both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs in his senior year at Sumter High School. While at Voorhees College, Jackson was the 4-time Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference champion in cross country, was the 3-time EIAC most outstanding athlete and was the only undefeated track and field athlete in EIAC history.
Because of his success, Jackson will be inducted into the Sumter Sports Hall of Fame.
"This is the greatest honor to ever happen to me athletically," said Jackson, who is currently the associate head coach for cross country and track and field at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. "To be inducted into the Hall of Fame with people like Wally Richardson, Norman Greene, Nicole Gamble and Terry Kinard. Those are all people that I looked up to."
Jackson will be inducted along with Lisa Ard, Connie Ballard, the late Buddy Hodge, Stacy Martin, Brooks Shumake and Travis Yates on Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. at the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Sumter located at 630 South Sumter Street.
Tickets are $25 a person for the event and can be purchased at the Boys & Girls Club. Its offices are open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call Jean Ford at (803) 775-5006.
Jackson began to compete in the seventh grade at Bates Middle School. He was on the Sumter High varsity in the eighth grade, and as a freshman he was all-state in both the 800 and 1,600. As a sophomore, he was all-state in those two events again as well as the 3,200.
Prior to the start of his junior year though, Jackson was shot and he had to work to get back out on the track.
"It was hard because the doctor had said he didn't know if I would get back," Jackson said. "That motivated me to work out three times a day. It motivated me because I was one of the top distance runners in South Carolina and I wanted to get back to that."
Jackson came back to claim the two state titles in 1995. Going to Vorhees, Jackson became the EIAC record holder in four events by the time he was done.
Jackson became the head coach for track and cross country at Voorhees for five years before moving on to Bethune-Cookman and has coached several outstanding athletes.
Being so competitive in high school and college pushed me to be a career in coaching," he said. "I try to pass on what I've learned over the years and instill that drive into my athletes."
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