VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Cross country is a sport you have to make a conscious decision to begin. It's not for the faint of heart. Over time it's a sport Valdosta senior Colton Baldwin has grown to love.
Colton Baldwin is this week's ABC 27 Scholar-Athlete of the Week.
Baldwin has his brother to thank for picking up cross country.
"My brother actually ran it in middle school," said Baldwin.
"Colton definitely ran because of his brother," said Ryan Kelly, Valdosta's head cross country coach. "He had no urge whatsoever to run."
"It was just something I wanted to do to get in shape, so I started," Baldwin said. "Running it throughout middle school, I actually liked it, so I stuck with it."
Good thing. He has become one of the leaders for the Wildcats, helping the team win Region titles his freshman and sophomore seasons.
"It definitely helps when you're winning a lot, makes the grind feel more worth it," said Baldwin. "It just pushes you to keep going further."
Baldwin and the 'Cats fell short of a Region title this year, but they're looking to rebound at State.
"His hard work has put him toward the forefront of our team and our Region for that matter," Kelly said.
Hard work that translates to the classroom. As an IB student, Baldwin has never made a B. He has a 4.0 GPA.
"I think it's just my competitiveness," said Baldwin. "Even though I'm not that good at everything, I still strive to be as best as I can be."
"If you don't have a crew around you that make it fun, you're not going to enjoy doing this, whether you're good at it or not," Kelly said. "His biggest part of his leadership is he has brought fun to the team. He'll be missed for no other reason than his sense of humor."
A sense of humor that gets them through the grind.
"It just helps to really push yourself and to know that keep going," said Baldwin. "That helps a lot in everything in life. Just to keep going and not give up so easily. Definitely put up a fight."
It's a fight Baldwin is glad he stuck with.
Baldwin said he hasn't ruled out competing at the next level, and he's thinking about majoring in biology and getting into the medical field.
The GHSA Cross Country State Championships are this Friday.