In life sometimes, as fate would have it, a chance meeting can change your life's trajectory forever for the good.
Ayana Smith remembers that moment. In the fifth grade, Smith and her mother were going to Cold Stone Creamery to get some ice cream on Valentine's Day. There, Smith met who would end up being her future club track & field coach.
"It changed my life because it showed me what I can really do," Smith said. "It was really surprising. I didn't think I had that in me."
Six years later, Smith is now a track star at Lutheran South Academy and just brought home gold in the 4X100-meter relay, 100-meter dash and long jump at the TAPPS 5A State Championships in May.
Smith has been running track since the sixth grade and arrived at LSA for her freshman year.
"I liked how it was small," Smith said. "My god sister went here before I got here and she told me some good things about it. I just felt like I would do really well here." The junior has big aspirations beyond winning gold in high school.
Smith dreams of running track collegiately, potentially at Southern University, Prairie View A&M or LSU, and then one day reaching the Olympics like her icon Allyson Felix.
"I love her style and how long she's been running and how strong she is as a person," Smith said. "I really love that about her."
Outside of track, Smith is involved in multiple organizations including Top Teens of America, serving as her chapter's president, and the World Youth Foundation. But everything she does in or out of school and on the oval is for her grandpa.
"I do everything for him even though he's not here with me anymore," Smith said. "If he was here right now, he'd be really proud of me."