Washington High School senior Rayana Burns has been flying around the track for the last several years.
How fitting, then, that this outstanding athlete (an eight-time State qualifier) signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Dayton, where she will be a member of the Flyers’ women’s track and field team.
Burns, surrounded by a host of family, friends, coaches and administrators, signed the letter in a ceremony in the lobby of the Washington High School gymnasium Friday afternoon.
“I went to (the University of Cincinnati) first on an official visit and I really liked it there,” Burns said. “Then I went to (the University of Dayton) and I felt more comfortable there. I just liked it more and I decided to go there.”
Burns was asked whom she would like to thank for getting her to this point in her life.
“Always God first for everything,” Burns said. “All of my accomplishments, it’s all the glory to God.
“I want to thank my parents,” Burns said. “And (Washington High School track) Coach (Louis) Reid. He’s been with me through Excel (youth track program) and everything.
“Coach (Mychal) Turner and coach (Samantha) Leach during basketball season and coach (Ashley) DeAtley during volleyball season. They’ve all pushed me to be the best I can be.”
As for a course of study in college, Burns said she is undecided at this time.
“At U.D. they have this discover program that I can go into so I can decide what classes I want to pick and what to major in,” Burns said.
Burns would certainly be a stand-out in any athletic endeavor.
Of all the sports she has participated in, why is track uppermost to her?
“Just having the programs when I was younger, like Excel track,” Burns said. “Just coming up into everything; just the atmosphere of it. I just like being with my teammates and all the people you’re able to be around. My whole life has been running, so that was what I want to do (in college).”
What about a favorite subject in high school?
“Probably math,” Burns said. “I like all of my teachers. I don’t think I could pick anyone out that was my favorite.”
Burns has a few months of high school left, but she seems ready to take on the challenge of college.
“I’m very excited,” Burns said. “I’m glad, because I was stressed about (the college decision). I’m glad I was able to make my decision early and just go forth with everything. I’ve been working out a lot so I can be the best that I can be.”
Burns qualified to State in four events as a freshman: the 100, 200, 400-meter dashes and high jump; as a sophomore, she went to State in three events: high jump, 200 and 400-meter dashes and last season, after suffering an injury in the Lady Lions’ District championship basketball victory over Vinton County, she was able to make it to State in the 400-meter dash.
“It was an amazing feat,” Reid said of Burns’ making it to State last year. “She trained for four really hard weeks to make it back. To be able to make it back to State is an accomplishment unto itself. She stayed mentally tough, as well. To come back from an injury like that is impressive.
“It’s very difficult to get a full ride to a Division I school for track and field,” Reid said. “It’s an awesome accomplishment for her. The coaches there recognized the work that she’s put in.
“I’m very proud of Rayana,” Reid said. “I’m proud that all of the hard work has paid off for her. A lot of kids work hard and never make it to State and she’s made it there eight times.
“She’s a true scholar-athlete,” Reid said. “She carries, I think, a 3.9 (grade point average). She excels in the classroom and in athletics.”