Bailey follows footprint for success

Cross country: C. Milton Wright's Pat Bailey is taking the same path as Dusty Lieb, last year's All-Metro Runner of the Year. But he's striding for even more.

High Schools

October 02, 2001|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

The similarities are striking. The slender yet broad frame, the seemingly effortless stride that covers so much ground, even the fair locks of hair on a head that is constantly looking forward to the finish line.

But Pat Bailey is not Dusty Lieb. Bailey, a junior who runs for C. Milton Wright, is trying to forge his own reputation to stand beside Lieb, an Archbishop Spalding graduate and last season's All-Metro Runner of the Year who runs for the University of Pennsylvania.

The similarities, however, between Lieb's senior season and Bailey's current campaign are eye-opening. Consider:

Bailey, in his first meet of the season, won the Spiked Shoe Invitational at Johns Hopkins University - a meet Lieb won last year.

Bailey captured the title at the Knights Invite three seconds off the course record of 15:28. The owner of that record? Lieb.

Bailey was the runner-up in the elite race at the Bull Run Invitational, one second behind Ryan Blood of Pennsylvania. Lieb placed second in the elite race, too, finishing one second behind Mike Myers of New Jersey.

Surprised? Bailey isn't.

"Going into the season, one of my goals was to be The Sun's Runner of the Year and kind of have a season like Dusty's and do what he did last year," Bailey said. "He was always 20 seconds or so ahead of me. He was one of the people I looked up to."

These days, much of the competition is looking up at Bailey, who has emerged as the favorite to win the Class 4A state championship. He has helped the Mustangs earn the No. 1 ranking and capture the team titles at Spiked Shoe, Knights and Bull Run in convincing style.

The accolades were evident since Bailey took up cross country two years ago. Last season, he claimed the Harford County and 4A East Regional crowns and placed second at the state meet.

To gain greater success, Bailey took another spin with Team Endure, a summer-long cross country camp organized by former C. Milton Wright coach and current UMBC coach Murray Davis.

Not only did Bailey run as much as 60 miles a week during the summer, but he also learned certain breathing exercises to maximize his oxygen absorption and nutritional tips to help build muscle and recover from long runs.

For Bailey, putting in that kind of effort instead of vacationing on the beach at Ocean City comes naturally.

"I just stay dedicated with it," he said. "I never slacked off during the summer. I always had to get some running in because it was one of my main priorities."

Bailey's single-minded pursuit of his goals has impressed Mustangs coach Eric Clark, who said Bailey tends to lead by example rather than by strong words or flamboyant actions.

"He's so inwardly motivated," Clark said. "Sometimes just winning a race is not enough for him. He needs to set course records to stay motivated. His potential is unlimited."

Bailey's attitude has also won over his teammates,

"When you have a runner like him, he brings up the entire team," said junior Jesse Slowikowski. "He influences the way I run, I influence the way [senior] Will [Murdoch] runs, and it goes on from there. ... He basically has made this program what it is."

Bailey has no misconceptions about his standing in cross country. He knows that if he is not careful, a competitor like Izudin Mehmedovic of Oakland Mills, Shane Stroup of River Hill or Chris Wright of Mount St. Joseph can catch him.

Stroup, who has run with Bailey and Lieb, said he thinks Bailey may exceed Lieb's accomplishments because Bailey is only a junior.

"He's only going to get better," Stroup said of Bailey. "He's amazing. I'm proud to run with him."

Lieb's former coach at Archbishop Spalding, Andrew Witte, said Bailey's talent is evident.

"His times are obviously great, but he's a junior, which is even more impressive," Witte said. "I think he has a chance to do something real special since he has another year."

The wins have garnered more attention for Bailey from college recruiters. Bailey estimates that he has been called to the main office at C. Milton Wright to pick up recruiting letters nearly every day since the season began Sept. 4.

But college is nearly two years away, and Bailey has his eyes on the state title and qualifying for the nationals by placing in the top eight at the Northeast Region of the Foot Locker Championships in New York in November.

"Right now, the challenge is to win states," he said. "And if I qualify [at Foot Locker], that would make me one of the top 32 runners in the country. That would be great."

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