BILOXI -- St. Patrick's Ramsey Wagner made it all of about 10 seconds Friday afternoon before her emotions overcame her.
As the cross country and track and field standout entered St. Patrick's library, she was taken aback by the impromptu applause from her friends and family who were in attendance to watch her sign with the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"This means a lot. It means saying goodbye to everybody. This year our cross country team got really close and when I first walked in and saw everyone it really hit me," Wagner said. "I'm really excited to leave but it's hard to say good bye."
Friday's ceremony was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication to her craft.
Ramsey first received a letter from West Point in 10th grade, but, honestly, she didn't think anything would come of it. Then this past summer, she really stood out at a camp, catching Army's attention.
"The coaches said they saw potential and would like me to run for them. That really motivated me to run even faster at practices," Ramsey said. "I prayed about it a lot and I told God that if I got the appointment I would go because that's where He wants me to be."
Is this real?
Even after receiving recommendations from Senator Thad Cochran and Congressman Steven Palazzo, and then officially signing with Army, it all still doesn't seem real.
"You just kind of feel like you slipped under the radar and that they don't really know they're letting you in," Wagner said, "but my mom keeps assuring me that they know what they're doing."
St. Patrick coach Tim McDaniel can attest to what Army is getting in its latest signee.
"Nobody has worked harder than her to achieve this level of success," McDaniel said. "She's come all the way from a girl who maybe placed seventh or eighth in a high school track meet to becoming one of the best in the state of Mississippi. It's through sheer determination and hard work.
"Ramsey will tell you she's not the most gifted athlete, but she puts in the hard work. She beat the other athletes by being a harder worker."
In addition to her team practices, Wagner routinely gets up at 3:32 a.m. -- Why 3:32 a.m.? "I try to wake up as late as possible," she laughed -- to get to the gym by 3:50 a.m. so she can get a workout in before school.
"She has done everything she has had to do to make this dream come true. To watch a child want something so bad, work so hard and then get it, it's real, real exciting," said Wagner's father, Clay, his face lighting up more and more with every glowing word. "It doesn't surprise me at all because I've seen the commitment she has made to school and athletics. We're talking about a girl who gets up every morning at 3:30 and runs five, six, seven miles so that she can be as good as she is on the field.
"The regiment of going to the Military Academy, which would scare most people, this is right up her alley. She's going to fit in perfectly at this."
Wagner won't ship out just yet -- she still has titles to defend. Wagner is considered one of the top long-distance runners in the state, having won five gold medals and one silver in Class 3A the past two years in track. Add that to two golds and a bronze in cross country the past three years. With that kind of athletic resume it should come as no surprise that Wagner is once again a favorite on the track this season.