MELISSA — Senior sprinter Bria Bullard, a two-time state-qualifier with two state medals, drew quite a crowd at noon last Thursday at Melissa High School. That’s where she finally revealed her choice of colleges, a secret she’d been keeping for weeks.

Bullard announced her decision via a video presentation that featured highlights of her running career with quotes from former and present coaches, and Bullard herself. Ultimately, she was shown running through superimposed logos of Alabama, Kansas, Arizona and UNLV before her choice – Baylor University – showed on the screen. Bullard and her parents then appeared, displaying bear-claw hand signs in green-and-gold attire. In-person Bullard then unzipped her warm-up jacket to reveal a Baylor T-shirt as friends, teammates, family and coaches erupted in cheers.

“I was keeping that secret so hard,” Bullard said soon after signing her National Letter of Intent. “Everybody kept on asking me. … I was a little nervous today. I mean, I’m making the biggest choice of my life. I’m just so happy and so grateful that I get the opportunity to run at the collegiate level. I’m so blessed that I have supporters in my life that helped me get to this point.”

Bullard, an AAU Junior Olympian, moved to Melissa last year after running track at Class 5A Sherman for two seasons. As a sophomore at Sherman she qualified for and ran at state in the 100-meter dash. As a junior, her first season at 4A Melissa, Bullard didn’t miss a beat, reaching state again – this time in both the 100 and 200 meters. And this time she claimed a silver medal in the 200 - in school-record time of 24.26 seconds - and a bronze in the 100 with a time of 11.95 seconds.

“I’m so proud of that,” Bullard said. “I went with a mission. … Honestly, I had it in my mind that I was going to get there. When it comes to track, I’m never satisfied. I just feel like I can be a better me every time I step onto the track.”

Her effort then was part of the Lady Cards’ school-record four-state-medal showing in Austin - along with then-freshman Kaylee Lewis, who grabbed gold and silver, respectively, in the 200 and the 100.

Besides individual sprint events, Bullard has been a key contributor in sprint relays as well, Melissa girls track coach Clay McCarter noted. “One of the things that I was most glad to see last year was just how Bria fit in so quickly. The learning curve was short. She jumped in, she made friends. She did what she had to do and she contributed in a big way. The impact she made was significant. I’m proud of her. I think she’s going to have another huge year [as a senior]. We’re going to bring home some more hardware.”

Bullard had never been a runner before her freshman year at Sherman. But coaches, she said, soon told her she had special potential. “Sophomore year, once I started taking it seriously, I actually saw myself running collegiate-level. Ever since then, I’ve been working and working and working. Failure is not an option to me. I want to do good for my family. I want to do good for myself.”

Bullard said she chose Baylor over several other schools for both academic and athletic reasons. “It was tough because they’re all good colleges. [Baylor assistant] Coach [Michael] Ford is amazing. I know he’s going to get me where I need to go. And I wanted to make sure that I’m close to home, so I can get to my family when I need to. All those aspects really played out in my decision.”

Baylor, an NCAA Division I FBS school located in Waco, competes in the Big 12 conference. In 2017, head track and field coach Todd Harbour led the Baylor women to their first conference championship. The team has seven Top 20 finishes at nationals under Harbour.

Bullard said she plans to study business and also pursue coaching in some way.

Her parents, Brittney Posey and Sharris Bullard, were on hand for the signing event held in the MHS gymansium. Just before Bria Bullard signed, she announced it was her mother’s birthday and requested everyone sing “Happy Birthday.” Her grandfather, Erie Furtch, picked up the microphone and ably led everyone in that tribute.

“I’m so happy for her,” Posey said of his daughter. “She has come a long way. She’s only been running track for three years and she’s been to state two years in a row. I’m so very proud of her.” He added that he also liked Coach Ford. “He’s a proven coach – plus they gave a 100-percent scholarship. You can’t beat that.”

Sharris Bullard called the day “bittersweet,” adding, “I’m very proud of her. I couldn’t ask for a better birthday. … It’s been a rollercoaster ride. It’s been up, it’s been down. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Both parents were also in the stands for Bullard’s state-meet appearances. “I think we were more nervous than she was,” Posey said.

Bria Bullard’s sister, Jaydyn Bullard, is a junior guard on the Lady Cards basketball team.

With her senior season at Melissa still to go, Bria Bullard said she has her sights on more achievements, including school and state records in the 200. “And I want to come out with gold at state in the 100 and the 200. I want to leave with a big bang.”