Gracie Loyd capped off an impressive track and field career at St. Bernard earlier this month.
On Tuesday, the senior officially became a collegiate athlete, signing a national letter of intent with Birmingham-Southern College in the company of family, friends, teammates, coaches and administrators inside the high school gymnasium.
Loyd will compete in the 200-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump when she enrolls at the Division III school in the fall.
"I made a plan in seventh grade that by my senior season I would have medaled at state, and I was going to run in college," she said. "And because of the coaches here (St. Bernard) and the amazing staff at Birmingham-Southern, that's what I get to do.
"I have never been so excited. I barely slept last night."
The Lady Panthers are getting a top-notch performer in Loyd.
She possesses five outdoor (100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, long jump and triple jump) and four indoor (60-meter dash, 60-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump) school records and has contributed to back-to-back Red Map trophies for the Lady Saints.
Loyd medaled in four events at this month's Class 1A-3A state track and field meet, collecting three silvers (100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and long jump) and one bronze (triple jump). She also bronzed (100-meter hurdles) in 2018.
All in all, she contributed a combined 50 points for St. Bernard during her two state meets.
"To be able to run with such an amazing team was incredible," Loyd said. "We're all so close, it's like a family. To have those girls behind me all year ... you know even on your bad days that they are going to be there for you no matter what, and that's amazing."
Coach William Calvert has seen a lot of great athletes come and go during his tenure with the Saints — and Loyd is as good as anybody.
"She's an outstanding talent," he said. "She's helped us win two runner-up trophies, one in 2A and one in 1A, in her two years of competing. She medaled in all her events this year with a hurt hip. She's been a good leader for the younger girls, and I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do at the collegiate level, where she can train consistently over the entire year."
Loyd's goals for when she gets to Birmingham-Southern are rather simple.
"I just want to be the best athlete and student for them," she said. "And I want to represent the school to the best of my ability."