Every morning at six, Dawson County alumni Colin Kilgore wakes up and readies his mind to spend the next four hours working out as a member of the University of South Carolina track and field team.
After class from noon to 5 p.m., Kilgore has the night to unwind or do any school work he might have until he does the whole routine again the following day. Though the demands of a Division 1 program might be different than what Tigers track and field head coach Arron Haynes had Kilgore do during his high school career, Kilgore said the staff at South Carolina work with him well.
“My coaches and teammates are really good at giving advice about school and athletics due to their experience,” Kilgore said. “They do everything from aiding you with classes you're struggling in to just everyday life. They have really been good role models and friends this past year.”
Kilgore is an exercise science major with medical school aspirations and dreams of becoming a physician assistant. On and off the track, Kilgore has always held himself to a high standard to be the best he can be.
“Ever since I was little I wanted to go away for college so that I can make a name for myself and build relationships and meet new people,” Kilgore said. “My main goal is to be one of the top athletes to ever come through South Carolina. I want to reset the record books and become the best athlete I can be.”
Kilgore spent the first two years of his high school career at Flowery Branch High School before transferring to Dawson County his junior year. He knew other runners on the team from competitive running outside of school teams and said he felt embraced by the small school atmosphere by coaches and fellow students.
“My first track season at Dawson was definitely the most fun I’ve had,” Kilgore said. “The runners on the team were so motivating and great teammates.”
Throughout South Carolina’s recruiting of Kilgore, he said he really only talked with Gamecocks track and field assistant coach Andrew Allden. Kilgore said Allden made him feel like a current member of the team before he joined and talked about the importance of having a high level of competition to compete against.
“South Carolina definitely became a top contender due to the level of talent in the SEC conference, so I felt like going to USC was the best place for me to run,” Kilgore said. “So when I was given the opportunity to go to school out of state I was excited to go establish myself in a new city.”
Kilgore, just a freshman, said his biggest concern was making friends outside of the track and field team because of the COVID-19 restrictions the team follows but added that his teammates are now his second family and loves being around them.
“Being a gamecock means being a part of a prestigious family that is bigger than oneself,” Kilgore said.
The competition level is what Kilgore said was the biggest difference between high school and college has been for him so far. He added that he has learned a lot about the different strategies of running mid-distance and running 5ks.
Kilgore has run the mile in three meets for the Gamecocks this season, with a best time of 4:30.95. Kilgore said he has always been able to perform at his best once his times mattered for the betterment of his team.
“When I race, I am zoned in,” Kilgore said. “I really like to focus on my lap splits and making sure I make strategic moves and decisions during the right time of my races. There are so many athletes that are at your same speed or faster. Even though this is the case, this makes you want to improve even more.”
Kilgore has plenty of time to add onto his collegiate goal of becoming one of the best athletes South Carolina has seen. He said his confidence comes from his Dawson County coaches constantly reminding him what being a Tiger meant for the rest of his life.
“Dawson County taught me the importance of striving to be the best,” Kilgore said.
"The coaches and teachers always set high standards and expectations for us. So as I continue through college, as expectations for myself grow, so does my confidence.