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After stellar performance at state, Gainesville's John Jessup gearing up to run the 800 at Wingfoot Night of Champions
John Jessup
Gainesville's John Jessup, left, and West Hall's Stephen Clark run the 800 at the Hall County championship March 18, 2022 in Flowery Branch.

John Jessup is always chasing that next milestone. 

He’ll certainly have that opportunity Saturday at Georgia Tech. 

After running a new personal-best time of 1 minute, 54.7 seconds in the 800-meter run and earning second at the recent Class 7A state championship meet, the rising Gainesville High senior will take part in the Wingfoot Night of Champions against all eight GHSA state champions in Atlanta. 

Jessup’s time in the 800, also a new school record at Gainesville, ranks No. 11 overall in the state in 2022. 

Early this week, Jessup got the invitation to take part in the elite event.

In addition to all the state championships, the next eight fastest runners were invited to run at the Night of Champions, he said. 

Right away, Jessup gave a confirmation that he’d be there, ready to run at the starting line. 

“I’m really honored to race in it,” Jessup said. 

Also taking part at the Night of Champions are North Hall’s Simon Seid, the Class 3A pole vault state champion, and Lady Trojans freshman Clodagh O’Bryant, who will run the 1600.

For Jessup, the biggest meet in the state will kick off what will amount to a busy summer for the already-accomplished distance runner for the Red Elephants. 

Going against a talent-packed field, Jessup’s goal is to set another personal best in the half-mile run. 

Among all the successful runners, the 800 is led by University of Georgia signee Will Sumner, who ran a 1:48 this season for Woodstock High. 

For Jessup, running such a strong race at state, in the highest classification, helped increase his confidence about competing anywhere he goes. 

“It made me believe I can run with anyone in the state,” Jessup said. “I started in the back and on the second lap, I started to pass everyone.”

Jessup’s time was just .35 seconds behind state champion Malachi Sanders, of Marietta. 

With such as encouraging performance under his belt, Jessup plans on using this summer to gear up for a run at a state championship, both in cross country and track and field as Gainesville moves down to Class 6A. 

This summer, Jessup said he’s travelling with three of his running friends and training in Vail, Colorado from July 3-13. 

Then, it’s back to Gainesville to prepare for his final season of cross country in the fall at Gainesville. 

His ultimate goal is to earn a Division-I scholarship to run in college. 

Jessup credits his coach Richard Corbett for helping him reach his full potential. 

“He’s been a great supporter through all this,” Jessup said. “I couldn’t do it without him.”

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