Former Te Awamutu College head girl Leah Belfield left from Arohena for America in 2019 to take up a four-year athletic scholarship and is gaining her tertiary education at West Texas A&M.
"It was scary initially and a complete culture shock. There were literally cowboys with the boots and hats at the airport, they talked different and drove on the other side of the road and all," said Belfield, 20.
"But because Canyon is a small country town rather than a big city I found it a lot easier to adapt because it was similar to home in a way."
Currently back visiting her family in New Zealand, Belfield moved to the States because her age group for track was small and she was looking for extra competition.
She got there using an agency which helped to connect her with coaches and find a school and track programme that suited her best.
West Texas A&M is a Division 2 University in Canyon, near Amarillo in North West Texas where Belfield is majoring in sports and exercise science and is looking to do her masters in sport management to give herself more opportunities in the future.
Belfield's freshman year, 2020, was cut short due to Covid-19 so she missed the entire outdoor track season.
"There was a two year gap since my last 100m race. I definitely missed it and prefer racing the 100m and 200m outdoor. It meant a lot to finally be able to race outdoor again this season and I was excited to see what progress those two years of hard work would bring.
"It was a weird feeling being able to run again but we got into the swing of things pretty quick and I really enjoyed the season."
Belfield was happy with her races this year and she reached her personal record early, continuing to improve as the season went on.
"My best times for the season were 11.68 -100m at the Jo Meaker Classic & Multi in Canyon and 23.96 -200m at the Lone Star Conference meet. My previous PRs were 24.67 -200m and 11.92 -100m so I was very happy with my season as it went better than I had planned."
Her conference finals consisted of 16 universities from five states that were able to compete.
In the indoor finals she retained the 60m title she won last year as well as second in the 200m for the second year running.
Belfield narrowly missed running at the NCAA Division 2 finals for the whole of America because they only took 14 athletes instead of 24 due to Covid-19.
She was ranked 14th equal in the 60m and 15th in the 200m. The other competitor ranked 14th made the finals by 1/1000th of a second.
At the outdoor conference she was second in the 100m and third in the 200m.
Her team won the 4x100m and their time automatically qualified them for the NCAA Division 2 finals - again due to Covid-19 numbers were limited.
Belfield's 100m time placed her 22nd in the country but they only allowed a field of 19.
Then in the 200 she was ranked 16th and they took 13 – a bizarre number.
Her relay team made the final and came third and with that, Belfield won her first NCAA national medal.
She has been running for seven years since year 9 athletics day at the Te Awamutu Stadium and is currently ranked third in New Zealand for 100m and fourth for 200m.
"I always loved sports and tried to do as many as I could. Murray Green [track coach] saw me run the sprints and asked me if I would like to come and train with him then it grew from there."
Belfield plans to continue to train hard and progress in her times each season and move up from there.
"I would like to earn individual All American Honours in the next few seasons as well as a team," she said.
"The team aspect for track at WT is huge and our main goals are obviously to succeed individually but also as a team, working towards winning conference and national titles."