HARLINGEN – Harlingen South senior Lauren Rekward had highs and lows during her three years with the Lady Hawks, and the strong support system around her made both better.

The family, friends, coaches and teammates whom she credited for her growth as an athlete and person were on hand to celebrate the latest milestone for Rekward when she signed to compete in track and field for Concordia University on Friday.

“It means definitely a lot. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a fifth-grader so it finally coming true doesn’t feel like reality at this point but it’s definitely a dream come true,” Rekward said. “I’m really truly excited to experience the level of difficulty and different athletes and different speeds (in college). I love a challenge, so it’s really exciting.”

Rekward said she had other schools reaching out to her, but Concordia was an easy choice. She’ll be running for coach Megan Wagenaar in the American Southwest Conference at the NCAA Division III level. Rekward will be studying kinesiology with a minor in biology and has big plans for her future.

“When I first visited, I just had a gut feeling that I was at home,” Rekward said. “From the moment I walked on that campus, I knew that was it. I really do plan on running sprints and relays and doing long jump, but I’m willing to go back to my roots and doing triple and high and anything else for them. … I plan to go to the University of Southern California after I graduate and go into a physical therapy PHD, and go into the Air Force after that.”

Lady Hawks girls track coach Dolores Cruz said Rekward’s academics were as strong as her athletic abilities. She called Rekward a pleasure to coach and said she made a strong impact in her three years with the program because of her leadership.

“Lauren is a hard worker, but after she puts in all the hard work, she still thinks about her teammates. That’s what makes her so special. She works hard, she puts in the time, but she worries more about other people. She doesn’t just think about herself. She just goes beyond in everything,” Cruz said.