Former Guntersville Wildcats Leighton Griep is finally getting to run an outdoor track season with Southeastern University after COVID cancelled the 2020 season.
Griep was a standout track athlete at Guntersville High School and is now a sophomore at Southeastern, which is located in Lakeland, FL. He is persuing a degree in finance.
Southeastern began its 2021 outdoor track season following quite a successful indoor season. Griep said he and his teammates are excited to be back on the track.
“Last year at about this same exact time, we went from preparing for a season to not having one at all almost overnight,” he said. “When that happened, I moved back to Guntersville, started working and kept working out. It’s really exciting to be back out running again. The indoor season was a lot of fun but I’m very excited outdoor has started back up.”
The Southeastern track team had quite an indoor season with 10 runners making the All-American men’s team including Griep. He made the All-American team as a member of the 4x400 team. Southeastern competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and began its outdoor season last Friday.
Despite being in a college track program for more than a year now, Griep said the techniques and lessons he learned while at GHS stick with him to this day.
“Honestly, I give coach Chris Bashaw all the credit for me being in the position that I’m in today,” he said. “I still use so much of his coaching in everything I do. I can’t put into words how much he has done for the GHS track and field program.”
Griep is the son of Jill Griep and Casey Griep. He said a lot of his time during the pandemic break was spent in the weight room while back at home.
“My main events are the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash,” Griep said. “So, there’s not a ton of conditioning I needed to do but instead I needed to lift weights and get stronger. So much of what makes you good at sprints has to do with technique and strength when you start.”
As the 2021 outdoor track season begins, Griep hopes to achieve some personal goals as well as team goals. The Southeastern track season will run all the way through to May 28 where Griep and his teammates will compete in the NAIA outdoor national championships in Gulf Shores.
“I like to set goals meet to meet and work on my own technique without worrying about the other runners,” he said. “If there’s a time I want to hit, I focus on what I need to do to get to that point. As a team, I just want to build off what we were able to get done in the indoor season and enjoy the season. We’re all very happy to be back out there after a year off.”