With the track season starting just days later, Greenbrier High School sprinters Kayla Tyson and Kaitlin Lucius got one last hurdle out of the way.
At the school Wednesday, Tyson signed a letter of intent to attend Division I University of Louisville, while Lucius signed to attend Division II Clayton State University.
Tyson, who has six county titles and four region titles in the 100 meter and 200 events combined, said Louisville was the only one she considered that encouraged her to chase her academic and athletic dreams. That was the deal-maker for the school.
“I want to study nursing and with all the other colleges they were kind of discouraging me from doing it because they were saying it’s a hard field and it would be kind of hard to do both,” Tyson said. “At Louisville, the coach sat down with me and told me the pathway I could take to do the track and the nursing.”
For a little while Tyson thought she would be headed to Georgia Southern, but after heading to Kentucky, that was it.
“When I went to Louisville they just blew me away with everything they had to offer so I knew that was my place to be,” Tyson said.
Louisville track head coach Ron Mann was excited about adding Tyson to the program.
“She is really a great addition from Georgia,” Mann wrote on the track team’s Web site. “She’s going to really help us in the 200m, 400m and 4x400m relay events.”
Lucius has been running since her freshman year, but it was her junior season when she took a step forward. In 2012, she finished second in the 100 and 200 in the county behind her lifelong friend Tyson as well as sixth in the 100 and fifth in the 200 at the Region 2-AAAA championships.
“It really made a huge difference when she began working out with the AAU team Velocity Striders,” said Greenbrier head track coach Kati Smallwood. “She wasn’t doing any other sports except when she was with us for track in spring for three months, so when she started working out with AAU all year she saw major leaps in her performances.”
While she was a little nervous about the signing, it was also the end of the road to redemption.
“People always told me I wouldn’t be able to do this,” said Lucius, who will run the 100, 200 and 400 at Clayton State. “I’m signing early and it takes the pressure off. A lot of people would say that and I’d be like OK, I’ll just prove you wrong.”
She liked Clayton State and thought it was nice right away and that was about it.
“I visited other places too and I just thought that (Clayton State) would be my best opportunity because I don’t want to go to a school where I fit in, I want to go to a school where I stand out.”