VALDOSTA -- The jerseys will read Valwood across the front, but the team could very easily change its name to Keck.
From race favorite, Marcus, to his twin, Daniel, and older brother David, there will be a Keck all over the course today at the GISA Region 3-AA cross country meet. That doesn't include the boys' father, Wade, a Valiants assistant who will be there to encourage his sons.
For four years, the four Kecks have been a fixture for the Valiants, but they're time together is dwindling. David is a senior with just today and Saturday's state final before he concludes his career.
"It will be different, kind of sad," David said. "It's been four years running with them."
The brothers have been together from the start, when they all joined the cross country team in David's freshman year.
"Actually, Dan's friend was running - he ran the year before we did - and he told us to run," Marcus said. "So, they were going to run and they made me do it."
"It was a nice peer influence," David said.
Once the boys jumped on it was only natural that father would follow.
"It gives me the opportunity to spend time with my boys and the boys they spend time with," Wade Keck said. "That's not an opportunity a lot of parents get."
Although he wasn't a runner himself in high school, Wade has thrown himself into assisting Valwood coach Linda Burnett. In addition to motivation, he also supplies plenty of advice.
"He always tells us to use our arms and make our strides a little farther," Daniel said.
"Little helpful pointers," David said.
"And he tells us to go faster," Marcus said.
On the course, older brother David supplies the direction for the defending GISA AA state champions.
"David's a natural-born leader," Wade said. "He's not as fast as his brothers, but he's really able to help motivate them and all the kids on the team. He takes this pretty serious, so he helps calm them down and keep their heads in the game."
Yet, that hasn't helped him overtake either of his brothers. In nine meets this season, Marcus has always been the fastest Valiant, with Daniel posting the team's second best time.
"Being the older brother, getting beaten by my two younger brothers, that's kind of motivating me to beat them," David said.
"And I have to beat (Marcus)," Daniel said.
"That's the twin rivalry," Marcus said. "And then David's just kind of back there."
Although he can't catch his brothers, David remains just as competitive. Twice this year, the Kecks have placed 1-2-3 at a meet, first at Sherwood Christian Academy Sept. 20 and then five days later at home on the course at Peebles Farm, the site for today's region meet. The team already owns six meet titles this year and expects to add another today. For the Kecks, it should be business as usual in preparation for Saturday's run at back-to-back state titles.
"Individually, probably top 5 in region and top 10 in state," David said.
So, if you're looking for the leaderboard, just look for Keck.
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