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Kenton George displays passion for track
KJ George
Kenton George competes in the pole vault competition as a senior for the Newton Rams’ squad. He will perform at state sectionals on May 6. (Photo by Elijah Bowman)

COVINGTON, Ga. — Kenton George’s athletic career at Newton High School didn’t have a smooth start. In the first semester of his freshman year, George was cut from the Rams’ basketball squad. 

A year later, George discovered his passion for running. 

“My friend told me to come out and run cross country. Coach [Stephen] Foster told me, ‘You just ran cross country, you might as well come run track,’” George said. “And I found love for it.” 

Since then, George has been a member of Newton’s cross country and track and field teams for the past three years. He prefers being on the track more because it’s a “more exciting sport” and he likes shorter distances. 

Giving up his basketball dream didn’t come easy for George, either. But his mindset quickly shifted. 

“[Playing basketball] is really what I saw myself doing,” George said. “But then, I got the opportunity to run cross country and found a passion for it.”

On the track, George competes in the 800-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles and, his favorite, the 4x400-meter relay. 

However, George extended his senior season by qualifying for state sectionals in the pole vault competition. He finished third at the Region 4-AAAAAAA meet by recording a 12-0 finish on April 26 at Archer High School. 

George’s latest performance showed improvement from the Rams’ inaugural meet of 2023 where he recorded an 11-6 finish. 

“I’ve done well this season. I’ve been able to PR in my 800-meter, 400-meter and started 110-meter hurdles this year,” George said. “In the pole vault, I’ve been able to put a foot on my height.” 

George comes from a running family. His mom ran track — her competition was the 400-meter — and played basketball in her hometown in Utah. George’s dad, a New York native, was a runner as well and played basketball, too. 

Not only does George receive support from his family, but he also feels it from his fellow Rams. That is actually one of the aspects of track George highlighted as his favorite. 

“The atmosphere and being around people who actually want to run and be successful in the sport is the best part,” George said. “We want to push each other and get where we’ve been wanting to get since the start of the season.” 

Now, George’s focus shifts 100% onto state sectionals this weekend on May 6. Newton will travel and compete at Archer High School. 

George plans to be meticulous in his approach to that meet. 

“I want to capitalize on the little mistakes. I want to make sure I’m focused on the little things,” George said. “And the recovery part is crucial. Like taking an ice bath before a meet and stuff like that.”

As far as George is concerned, though, his track and field career is far from over, despite his senior season on its home stretch. 

Just three years removed from realizing his desire to run track and field, George has a few offers from various schools to keep living his dream. Knowing that, pushes George even more toward success. 

“I want to get to the next level with this,” George said. “So, that puts pressure on me to compete at my best and get my times down.”