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Track and field: Gainesville senior John Jessup fulfills a dream years in the making
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 enjoying one of the best weeks of his life. 

On Wednesday, the Gainesville High senior distance runner gave his verbal commitment to run on scholarship at the University of Georgia, shortly before training begins for his final prep season of track and field. 

A life-long Bulldogs fan, Jessup made his biggest mark in 2022 with a second-place finish in the 800-meter run at the Class 7A championship in 2022, running a time of 1 minute, 54.7 seconds. 

After that, opportunities opened up with Division-I programs. 

However, he was always loyal to the Bulldogs. 

“Going to UGA has been a dream of mine since I was a kid,” Jessup said. “It’s kind of surreal right now. It doesn’t even feel real.”

The upward trajectory of Jessup’s career at the end of his junior season was especially impressive, considering the fact that he was coming off a stress fracture in his foot. 

After having to rest for three weeks to recover after the Hall County championship, Jessup gave it his all at the state championship meet for the state’s highest classification. 

Following his runner-up finish at state, Jessup earned a spot and competed at the Wingfoot Night of Champions in Atlanta. 

Last summer, Jessup was running 40-45 miles every week, which included a stint training in the high altitude of Colorado. 

This season, Jessup plans on running the 800 and 1600 for the Red Elephants, as they move down to Class 6A for at least the next two years. 

Jessup said he grew up going to Georgia football games with his family. 

For his final season of high school track and field, Jessup said getting his commitment taken care of early relieves him of a lot of pressure to perform well this spring. 

“It makes it a lot more stress free for me,” Jessup said. “I can go out and enjoy my final semester of high school and run as fast as I can.”

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