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Southland’s Ryleigh Bell signs cross country & track scholarship to Point University

AMERICUS – Southland Academy senior Ryleigh Bell signed a letter of intent on Friday, October 11, to continue her education and running career at Point University, a small Christian college located in West Point, GA near the Alabama border.

The signing took place in the Melvin Kinslow Gymnasium on the campus of Southland Academy.

Bell looked at other colleges, such as Trewett-McConnell, Rheinhardt University and Piedmont College, but there was something different about Point University that convinced her that Point University was the right fit.

“When I went to go visit Point, I really liked it. It was a unique, different college,” Bell said. “It just stuck out to me the most.”

Southland’s Ryleigh Bell finished in eighth place out of 45 runners competing in the high school girls’ race at the Deerfield-Windsor Invitational last month.
Photo by Angie Bell

Bell is currently having an excellent cross country season. Bell recently finished in fifth place with a time of 22:53 at the Bulldogs Distance Classic in Forsyth, GA.

At this year’s Deerfield-Windsor Invitational in Albany, GA, Bell turned in another top-10 finish. She finished in eighth place with a time of 22:34.79.

Bells’ best performance of the season so far was at the Southland Invitational on Saturday, September 21. In that meet, she placed second overall with a time of 22:09, but according to her mother, SA head cross country coach Angie Bell, it was how she ran that race that showed how much progress she had made since her season-ending injury, which took place a year ago in the 2018 Southland Invitational.

“Coming back from this injury and trying to regain a fitness level that will allow her to compete with the best in the GISA has been a long and hard road,” Coach Bell said. “Ryleigh is hoping that she will be able to continue gaining fitness and racing smarter as she works towards the GISA State Championship Meet on November 2.”

Bell has also been very successful on the track throughout her high school career. According to information located at www.athletic.net, as a junior last spring, Bell turned in the seventh fastest time in school history in the Girls’ 400-Meter Run (1:10.05).

Ryleigh Bell takes the baton from teammate Maddie Crisp during the finals of the Girls’ 4×400 Meter Relay in last year’s GISA State Meet.
ATR Archive

As a freshman in 2017, Bell set a school record in the Girls’ 800-Meter Run (2:26.67). During that same year, Bell ran the second fastest time in school history in the Girls’ 1600-Meter Run (5:34.67). In 2019 as a junior, She ran the sixth fastest time in school history in the Girls’ 3200-Meter Run (14:12.05).

“Ryleigh is a hard worker who I could always count on to leave it on the track,” Southland head coach Nathan Hammack said. “She would always give it her best shot no matter the injury or if she was sick or tired. I am very excited to see what she will accomplish not only this year in track, but in the future at Point.”

Southland’s Ryleigh Bell (yellow Jersey) finished in eighth place in the finals of the Girls 800 Meter Run at last year’s GISA State Meet with a time of 2:36.18.
ATR Archive

While in college, Bell plans to major in Exercise Science and would like to go into Occupational Therapy.