**Story and photo by Kyle Heck**
When the former South Carolina track and field athletes saw the brand new track facility, there were a lot of them that just couldn't believe it.
The new state-of-the-art facility was a tremendous upgrade over the previous track, and it immediately became one of the best in the country.
Those former athletes received a special opportunity to come back and be honored at Sheila and Morris Cregger track. The Gamecocks are hosting the SEC outdoor track and field championships for the first time since 2001, and it's been a special weekend.
The Sheila and Morris Cregger track was officially opened in March, but on Saturday there was a special reception for former track and field athletes, and they were then honored in a parade prior to the official start of the final day of SEC action.
"It's kind of breathtaking walking into this facility compared to what we had," former hammer thrower Ant Faulkner said. "It's a night and day difference, and the kids and coaches deserve it."
Over the past few years, the athletics department has made a concerted effort to bring as many former athletes back as possible. The goal is to create the best family atmosphere possible.
After all, once a Gamecock, always a Gamecock.
"There's a real commitment from Athletics Director Ray Tanner and our athletics department to bring former student-athletes back to campus, and this was an awesome opportunity to do that," Executive Associate AD/Development and Gamecock Club Jeff Crane said. "For us, we build these facilities because we want to provide an awesome experience for our student-athletes. That's what it's all about. It takes championship level commitment to build championship level facilities, and Morris and Sheila Cregger are true champions for our program."
The Cregger family was present on Saturday for the event, and they were thankful to see the tremendous turnout for the alumni event and the large crowd for the final day of action at the track.
"I think it's awesome," Sheila Cregger said. "I had so many of them come up and say, 'Thank you' and how much they appreciate it. That meant a lot to me. I'm just glad we could do a little something to give back. We really enjoyed meeting and talking to some of them, and really glad they could come back for this."
So many different people contributed to the new facility to make it happen, and it was years in the making. While the process was long it was definitely worth it now that the University of South Carolina has a track facility that many schools around the country envy.
"It's named after us, but there's a lot of other people that helped make it happen," Morris Cregger said.