EARLY - What caught her eye during high school freshman orientation turned into the pathway to college.

Early's Hallie Brinson on Monday signed with the University of North Texas to continue powerlifting after capturing a bronze medal at the Texas Women's Powerlifting Association's state meet in the 132-pound weight class earlier this spring.

"I got hooked on powerlifting my freshman year, which is pretty much the first time I stepped into a weight room," Brinson said. "I came to freshman orientation and the powerlifters had a booth set up. I told my dad I wanted to quit basketball to powerlift. He thought I was joking but I was dead serious, and here we are four years later."

Brinson chose to attend UNT after receiving interest from Texas A&M, Texas and Angelo State.

"I'm so excited because this sport is my passion and I wanted to continue it after high school and I'm so glad UNT gave me the opportunity to do it," Brinson said. "I picked UNT because after talking to the other schools, UNT was the most welcoming and they felt the most like home. The people were very sweet and I feel like I fit in with them."

Brinson was a member of the Lady Horns' Region 2 championship team, which won every meet of her senior year until state. Early placed seventh at state, but Brinson brought home a bronze medal after lifting a total of 895 pounds (350 squat, 210 bench, 335 deadlift).

"State was the biggest adrenaline rush I ever had in my life," Brinson said. "You're kind of like a rock star right there in the middle with everyone watching you. You're on the platform in front of hundreds of people."

Brinson expressed gratitude toward Early coach Josh Lehde and her teammates for helping guide her down the path a college powerlifting career.

"I want to thank Coach Lehde and all my teammates," Brinson said. "Without them I don't think I would be where I am today. Our team is the most encouraging team I've ever been on."

Along with competing at state, Brinson attended the 2018 USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals, hosted by Texas A&M, as a spectator. While there, the goals for her freshman year at UNT fell into place.

"State was a lesson to prepare me for college nationals and the big audience I'll have there," Brinson said. "Then I went and watched college nationals this year and after being there I want to place fifth in the college nationals next year and be a prime time lifter."

The primetime session is the last lifting session of each day at the USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals, according to its website, made up of the best lifters from the weight classes that compete that day. Lifters chosen for primetime session will be based off of who has the highest qualifying totals.

Along with powerlifting, Brinson intends to major in psychology at UNT.

She is the daughter of Bobby and Terri Brinson.