Alexia Neal picked up track as a seventh grader after watching her older cousin compete for Beaufort High School.
Now a senior, Neal's curiosity has helped land her a chance to compete at the NCAA Division I level. She signed her intent Wednesday to join the women's track and field program at College of Charleston.
"I'm just stress free now," Neal said. "I'm looking forward to running on the college level."
Neal received a letter of interest from the school during her junior season and took her official visit this past fall. She said she liked the unique downtown campus and small-school environment.
She also liked that the women's program receives the full attention of coaches. The Cougars don't have a men's team.
Track came easy to Neal when she started running as a seventh grader. She plans to run the same events she did in high school while adding the heptathalon, a competition made up of seven events.
Neal first grabbed the attention of college coaches when she finished third in Class 4-A in the 400-meter hurdles. She earned all-state honors again this past weekend at the Class 4-A meet, finishing third in the 100 hurdles.
College of Charleston coaches watched Neal at the Region 8-AAAA meet earlier this spring and kept up with her times. Neal said she considered Coastal Carolina and Wingate, but neither as seriously as she looked at College of Charleston.
She said her goal in her first college season would be to improve her times and to qualify for the NCAA national championships.
Name: Alexia Neal
High school: Beaufort High School
High school coach: Herbert Glaze
College: College of Charleston
Probable major: Chemistry
About College of Charleston: The NCAA Division I Cougars compete in the Southern Conference. The school does not have a men's program.
Why College of Charleston? "It's not too big and I like the environment over there," Neal said.
Other schools considered: Coastal Carolina, Wingate
Other high school sports played: Volleyball
Accolades: All-state 2010, 2012; Three-time all-region selection in 100- and 400-meter hurdles
Scholarship: Athletic and academic