People told Kaila Smith to sign earlier.
Scholarships will be gone if you wait, they said. But Smith, a Beaufort High School senior hurdler, remained patient.
She wanted the best fit and believes she found it at Coastal Carolina. She signed Wednesday to run track for the Chanticleers, crossing off one of several goals.
"My dad (Beaufort High assistant coach Kenneth Smith) and I were convinced the right opportunity would present itself if I continued to work hard and perform well in the classroom and on the track," Smith said. "I think I'm going to the right place that can help me reach my potential -- whatever that may be."
Smith's parents both ran track for Beaufort High, her mother part of three state championship teams in the 1980s. She hopes to become a state champion Saturday at the S.C. High School League Class 4-A championship.
Smith qualified first in the 400-meter hurdles, three seconds faster than the next-best time, and second in the 100-meter hurdles. She was also part of the 4x400-meter relay that qualified third.
A sweep would be ideal, she said.
"The competition is tightening, but I'm going to try my best to make those things happen," Smith said.
Before the school year, Smith moved from Charlotte, where she ran for a local track club and thought of one day running at UNC Charlotte. She considered the 49ers and Campbell most seriously after not hearing back from two of her top targets, South Carolina and Clemson.
Smith's busy summer starts early with the Central America Junior Track and Field Championships later this month. She also plans to run at the AAU Track and Field Championships, New Balance Nationals and hopes to compete in the USA Junior Outdoor Track & Field Championships and Pan American Junior Championships.
At Coastal Carolina, Smith wants to help the Chanticleers win multiple conference championships while picking up individual titles. And she wants to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
Name: Kaila Smith
High school: Beaufort High
Sport: Track and field
High school coach: Herbert Glaze
College: Coastal Carolina
Probable major: Exercise and sport science
About Coastal: The NCAA Division I Chanticleers compete in the Big South Conference. The school recently announced its men's team will be discontinued after the 2013-14 season.
Why Coastal? "I really clicked with the girls from the team," Smith said. "The ladies were really down to earth and welcoming. They gave a good perspective on what to expect from the coaches, program and the university."
Other schools considered: UNC Charlotte, Nevada, Gardner-Webb, Wingate, Campbell, North Carolina, South Carolina, Clemson
Other high school sports played: None