The 2018-2019 Walker County Girls' Athlete of the Year

Gracie O'Neal, a three-time Walker County Girls’ Athlete of the Year and an multi-time state champion runner at Gordon Lee, verbally committed to the University of Georgia on Tuesday. She will officially sign with the Bulldogs next week.

Citing a love for the school, multi-time Gordon Lee state champion Gracie O'Neal officially announced that she was committing to the University of Georgia on Tuesday night.

O'Neal, who recently won her third consecutive GHSA Class 1A Public School cross country state championship this past Saturday, said she will run both cross country and track for the Bulldogs.

"Georgia has always been an awesome school," she said. "Even if I wasn't going to run there, I still would go to school there. When I went on my visit, I just loved the team, the coaches, the city of Athens and just everything about it. I just think it's going to be a good fit for me.

"It's going to be a great place to challenge myself, both running and academically. I just felt comfortable there and it just seemed right."

O'Neal is already the most decorated runner in Gordon Lee High School history. In addition to three individual state cross country titles and five individual state track titles - plus a team state title in track last spring - she also holds the girls’ school record in cross country (18:19), the 800 (2:23), the 1600 (5:14) and the 3200 (11:23).

She is also an All-Region basketball player for the Lady Trojans, who averaged a double-double a year ago, and was a standout on the volleyball court before giving up the sport this past season to focus on cross country.

O'Neal will officially sign her letter of intent on Nov. 13.

Scott Herpst is sports editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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