A native from Nassau, Bahamas, Pedrya Seymour has gone from a lowly coveted recruit to an All-American to an Olympian.
Seymour, a fifth-year senior, started her college career at Illinois after a lackluster end to her high school days.
“My last year of high school wasn’t good, but (Texas interim head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey) has an eye for talent,” Seymour said. “When I went on my visit to Illinois, she was like a mother to me. I genuinely got that feeling from her.”
After meeting with Buford-Bailey, Illinois’ head coach at the time, Seymour signed with the Fighting Illini in May 2013. But shortly after signing, Buford-Bailey left the school to become an assistant at Texas.
Seymour flourished at Illinois despite being apart from the woman who recruited her. Seymour redshirted her first year and took that time to get accustomed to the style and intensity of the NCAA track season. All of her training was finally put on display in the years that followed. She was a USTFCCCA second-team All-American in 2016 and first-team in 2017.
Seymour improved every year and continued to get faster. Her times began to put her at the top of leaderboards in America and in her native Bahamas.
During the 2016 NCAA Outdoor Championships, she set a personal best and a Bahamian record 12.86-second 100-meter hurdle. Her time allowed her to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She finished sixth in the 100-meter hurdles in Brazil at just 21 years old. In the process, she had again set the Bahamian record at 12.64 seconds. It was the third time that year she had broken the record and the second time she had broken her own.
She had a clear motivation and extra incentive to run the way she did.
Just months before her first record-breaking performance, her 32-year-old brother, Keron Dean, was murdered in the Bahamas.
“I dedicated my entire outdoor season and my entire Olympic season to him,” Seymour said. “During that time, I ran for something supernatural. I ran for something bigger than me.”
Despite the passing of her brother, she continued pushing forward and competing at a high level once she got back. Once she returned to Illinois, a hamstring injury sidelined her for the outdoor season.
The silver lining of the injury was that she was able to retain one year of eligibility. With that opportunity, she took advantage and transferred to Texas. Buford-Bailey, her old coach and recruiter, was thrilled with Seymour’s decision, and she was ready to fulfill a plan five years in the making.
“When I recruited her, she was really developmental,” Buford-Bailey said. “She’s already run her fastest opener ever and her fastest time this time of year, so she’s on the right track.”
Seymour has turned herself into a leading presence on a Texas team that is aiming to win its fourth Big 12 title in five years. With her experiences and training from her mentors, she is more poised than ever to help the Longhorns cross the finish line.
Seymour’s growth hasn’t been just with her speed on the track.
“She has really become a student of the game,” Texas assistant coach Zach Glavash said. “She has really developed as an athlete and is really starting to understand what it means to be a team player.”