Carnegie Vanguard track star balances state title hunt with 4.7 GPA, extra-curricular leadership

ByJoe Gleason KTRK logo
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Carnegie Vanguard track star balances state-title hunt with 3.7 GPA
Carnegie Vanguard High School track star Laila Payne isn't just focused on getting to the state meet. She's balancing it with a 4.7 GPA and clubs.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Carnegie Vanguard High School is a Houston Independent School District magnet campus for gifted and talented students, including junior Laila Payne, who's taking it to a whole other level.

"This year, I decided to do the (100-meter dash) and (300-meter) hurdles and (200-meter dash)," Laila said.

Those are just the events she runs on the track, all on their own difficult.

Laila also excels in the classroom, maintaining a 4.7 GPA at one of the most challenging schools in the U.S.

"I try to keep a positive attitude in everything I do," she said. "I try to take everything one piece at a time - each race, each warmup, each assignment I need to do."

Laila is very active in clubs on campus, serving as president of the Black Student Union and Foster Care System Awareness clubs. She's also a member of the nationally recognized competitive dance team.

"We have quite a few (advanced placement) courses, and we all have to take the capstone program," Payne said. "It's obviously very rigorous, but we do have quite a few organizations and clubs. For me, that's why I like Carnegie. It's not just track and school. It's track, school, and everything l like to do."

Running track is one of the most difficult sports in high school athletics. To get to the state level, you must qualify in track meets three weeks in a row. It's a grind in and of itself.

Laila won state last year in the 300-meter hurdles. Last Thursday, she took one step closer to returning to Austin by winning the 100-meter hurdles and qualifying in the 200-meter run, an event occurring immediately after she won the 300-meter hurdles.

"When it comes to those quick turnarounds, or moving on from a bad race, or move onto the next race, I just take it one step at a time," she said. "It really feels like I only have done one race every time I step on the track."

ABC13 Sports will watch for Laila at this week's regional meet, where the top two finishers advance to state.