When he was a sophomore at Liberty County High School, Khaleed Barrett switched from playing football to running track. It has turned out to be a good choice.
Barrett committed to the Mississippi Valley State University track program Monday morning at LCHS, surrounded by his extended family and friends in the media center.
Barrett, who plans to study biology and become a teacher, said he felt right at home when he visited the Itta Bena, Miss., campus.
“The coach was really nice to me, and the team made me feel like I was part of their family,” he said. “I know it is somewhere I can grow and develop and also contribute to the team.”
Barrett plans to run cross-country and focus on the 800-meter run and the 4X400 relay, his two favorite events.
Barrett said he is ready to run at the next level.
“I will be running my first year as a freshman. I may not be the top runner, but I will be there contributing to the program,” he said.
Self-determination seems to be the consensus of what helped Barrett exceed in a sport he took up only two years ago. LCHS track coach Nathan Mims said Barrett started being scouted by colleges after he won the 1500 run at the 2013 National State Games, held July 31-Aug. 4 in Hershey, Pa.
“He was an amazing runner even back then,” Mims said. “I could tell … he never was on the track team, but I could tell he ran at home and he loved to run so when he came out we told him he needed to stay with track … and he has loved it since.”
Mims said it will be a different atmosphere in college for Barrett.
“In college, he will be competing year round,” Mims said. “They have an indoor season and an outdoor season … he needs to start training, running, conditioning … there is a lot more intensity in college.”
Cousin Tyrone Barrett coached Barrett in football at the recreation department since he was 9 years old.
“And I’ve watched him grow up … he has self-dedication … all he does is go out and run every day at Miller Park,” he said, adding he has offered some advice to the young man.
“Keep your head straight and stay out of trouble,” he said. “Avoid all the foolishness and get the education.”
Barrett’s mother, Carolyn, said she was surprised to learn her son wanted to switch from football to track, but she said she supported the decision.
“I am in shock and amazed,” she said. “This is my first-born, and he is about to leave … it is really starting to sink in … I am so happy for him. He’s been trying hard, since he was a baby, to make me proud of him, and he is doing a good job of it. I told him to stay grounded and focused and make sure he calls home if he needs anything, because we are going to be there for him, no matter what.”