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Emerald senior Zac Beckom signed Friday to join Columbia International University’s men’s track and field program. Front row, from left, are Angie Beckom, Zac Beckom and Mike Beckom. Back row are Tonya Branyon and David Payne.

Emerald senior Zac Beckom signed Friday to join Columbia International University’s men’s track and field program.

“It’s a chance for me to further my faith and academics and also get to run,” Beckom said. “Emerald has shown me a lot, shown me how to love to run, shown me how to love my teammates and shown me how to be a great person.”

Beckom was a key returner for an Emerald boys track team team that looked to build off its fifth-place finish in Region 3-3A last year.

Emerald hosted its only meet on March 10 before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Beckom finished second in the 400-meter hurdles and third in the 110-meter hurdles.

“Coming into this year, I was able run both of my races, and that was huge,” Beckom said. “That meant a lot to me, just to go and do that in my senior season, even if it was my last race.”

Beckom formed a strong relationship with Emerald coach David Payne over the years and said he credits Payne for challenging him to become a better runner.

“As frustrating as it can be being an athlete under coach Payne, I love him to death,” Beckom said. “He put me through a lot. He showed me how to work hard and how to stay focused. That’s the big thing I give to him, because he taught me how to stay focused and stay true to who you are.”

Contact sports writer Wesley Dotson at 864-943-2530 or follow him on Twitter @WesleyPDotson.