Kimberly Harris, an incoming senior at Buford High School, is undefeated statewide in her division’s 400-meter event. COURTESY OF BUFORD CITY SCHOOLS

Buford High track star is headed to Costa Rica as part of Team USA

For three and a half weeks, Kimberly Harris couldn’t run. The Buford High School track athlete sustained a hip injury in March during a long jump in her junior season.

After lots of rest, ice packs and bandage wraps, she’s still making her comeback. The 16-year-old will be running in Costa Rica next month as a member of the Under-20 Pan American Athletics U.S. team, after qualifying for the 4-x-400 relay.

“It’s a very big deal for me,” said Harris, who is younger than many of her competitors. “It’s very cool to just sit back and think, ‘They’re running for their college teams.’ That’s such a high level.”

Harris tried out for the Pan Am team in June. She was the number two seed and broke her personal record in the individual 400-meter, clocking in at 52.26 seconds. She ran the same event in the finals, where she moved to the number one seed, and her time was even lower — 52.16 seconds. She placed fourth, which earned her a spot on the relay team.

“That she’s been chosen means she’s good enough for the Olympics,” said Victor Lopez, the president of the Association of Pan American Athletics.

“She is an outstanding student-athlete who will be a great ambassador for Georgia, as well as the USA, just as she has been for Buford City Schools,” a representative from Buford City Schools said in a statement.

Harris has traveled a lot this summer. In June, she ran events in Cuba and at North Carolina A&T State University, her parents’ alma mater.

Back in Georgia, she is undefeated in the state for her division’s 400-meter event. Her high school team has won the state championship three years in a row. As her senior year nears, she’s hoping for a fourth — this time, with her younger sister, who is an incoming freshman.

“Giving the baton to my sister is a big deal,” she said, adding that they have had few opportunities to run together. “My mom will have a lot of cool pictures to hang up.”

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