BUFORD — As fast as she has been throughout her high school track and field career, Buford’s Kimberly Harris hasn’t been all that accustomed to having races come down to the wire.

Yet that was exactly the case when the senior sprinter had to meet her own self-imposed deadline for choosing between two Pac-12 Conference teams for her college destination.

“It was very recently,” Harris said during a ceremony to celebrate all of Buford’s athletes signing college scholarships during the early signing period Wednesday at the school’s performing arts center. “I made my decision, like, Tuesday night.”

Ultimately, a three-time All-County runner and jumper picked up the Cardinal and Gold baseball cap to signify her choice of the University of Southern California over her other finalist Oregon.

“I wanted what was best for me (and) what was best for my track journey and where I’m going and where I wanted to see myself,” said Harris, a three-time Class AAAAA state champion in the 400-meter dash. “(USC head) Coach Caryl (Gilbert) and (sprints) Coach (Quincy) Watts were very, very repetitive. They were always making sure I was OK. They were always checking up (on her) and telling me what their plans were.”

Gilbert, in particular, was overt in her interest in Harris, especially by flying more than 2,000 miles from Los Angeles to pay a visit to Harris during one of Buford’s practices last spring.

It was a gesture that made a strong impression on both Harris and Wolves head coach Fyrone Davis.

And of course, Harris has been making quite the impression on everyone throughout her whole career, which has also included a state title in the 200 as a junior last spring, a state title in the long jump as a sophomore in 2018 and a leg in multiple Buford state championship relay teams.

“She’s meant a lot to our program over the last three years,” Davis said of Harris, who was the Daily Post’s 2019 Girls Runner of the Year, the Girls Field Performer of the Year as a sophomore in 2018 and a first-team All-County selection in her freshman season in 2017. “She’s probably one of the best athletes to every come through Buford High School. It’s a joy to coach somebody with that ability. Her work ethic is so unreal and so unmatched, and that’s the best thing about Kimberly Harris."

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Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.