Malcom Leach

Abbeville track athlete Malcom Leach signed with USC Upstate. Front row, from left, are Regina Rayford, Malcom Leach and Chris Rayford. Back row, from left, are Rebecca Holland and Qua Gilchrist.

Though the past weeks of Malcom Leach’s life have been difficult, he reached one of his life’s goals Thursday when he became a member of USC Upstate’s men’s track team.

Leach signed Thursday during a ceremony at Abbeville High.

“I feel like I get to make somewhat history for Abbeville,” Leach said. “I get to go down somewhere in history for Abbeville, a school that’s got a lot of my family history in it.”

All in the past few weeks, Leach’s brother, Malik Leach, died after accidentally shooting himself and Malcom’s track season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Malcom, a two-time state meet qualifier, had aimed for a third qualification and a possible state championship.

When Leach sat down with his parents and coaches for the school’s signing photo, Malik’s smiling face sat in a picture frame next to him. He could feel his brother’s presence.

“He’s proud of me,” Malcom said. “It’s kind of a sad moment because he’s not here physically but I feel like he’s here with me at the same time, even though it’s not physically.”

Malcom said he chose USC Upstate because several of his family members have attended the school. He is one of few Abbeville grads to earn a Division I scholarship in track and field.

Malcom is set to speak at Abbeville’s graduation, as he is the senior class president. As he closes high school, he keeps his brother’s memory in mind with each step he makes toward his future.

“It’s been real rough, but taking it day by day,” Malcom said. “What I need to do is stay focused and do what my brother would want me to continue doing. Not giving up and just stay focused and happy, for him. It’s kind of hard to explain, losing a brother because we grew up twins. I feel like I’m making him proud.”

Contact sports writer Skylar Rolstad at 864-223-1813 or follow him on Twitter @SkyRolSports.