By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City hasn’t had much success in girls cross country in recent years.
But that could all change this weekend.
Senior Kenya Bailey has been one of the top runners in Class 6A this season. And she will have a chance to prove it one final time as she competes at the state cross country championships on Saturday at Edmond Santa Fe High School.
Bailey qualified for the state meet after placing second in the 6A West regional last week in Norman with a time of 19:37. The senior has shown steady improvement since moving to Midwest City her junior year.
“Kenya is very consistent, she has a great work ethic and she’s here every day ready to work,” said assistant coach Sam Stelce. “And when she gets to the race, she delivers.”
Bailey previously went to school in Ponca City and John Marshall, but never ran cross country.
“I always wanted to run cross country and I finally convinced my mom to let me do it,” Bailey said. “She thought I’d break an ankle.”
Midwest City coaches were immediately impressed with Bailey’s natural ability and dedication. Bailey qualified for state last year as junior, finishing 64th with a time of 21:56. She also shined in track, placing 13th at state in the 3200 meters.
“In her first meet she did well, but not great,” Stelce said. “But later I looked at the video from the race and she had gotten faster every mile, which is not common for high school runners. It showed she had natural stamina.”
Bailey continued to push herself last summer. And the hard work paid off, as she dropped nearly a 1 ½ minutes on her time from the state meet. In her first meet of the season, Bailey clocked a time of 20.27 in the Carl Albert Invitational.
“I think practicing over the summer and having a distance running coach really helped me,” Bailey said.
That progress continued throughout the year as she broke the 20-minute mark in the Big 10 Conference meet earlier this month.
“Usually that type of improvement takes place over time, but Kenya is so consistent with improvement and strategizing for races,” said coach Jeremiah Smith.
The 6A girls state cross country meet starts at 10 a.m.