Bailey is officially a Dawg

METROPOLIS — Massac County senior Ansley Bailey can’t wait to get to SIU. Bailey and her family are celebrating her signing with the Salukis to run track and cross country.

“We’re really excited to welcome in Ansley Bailey to the Southern Illinois family,” SIU cross country coach Kevin Cataldo said in a release. “She’s a local kid. We’re keeping southern Illinois talent inside Illinois and we love to see that. She was our first verbal commit back in July. She’s a great kid and really clicks with our team. She’s got a lot of potential in the middle distance events and has some range. She’s an All-State selectee in cross country and ran some really fast marks this past year. We’re really excited to welcome Ansley aboard.”

The chance to stay close to home was huge for Bailey.

“I like my family a lot,” Bailey said. “It’s only like an hour away, so if I want to come home on the weekends, I can just drive down there and bring my new friends because they live like eight hours away, so they can just come down to my house and meet my family.”

“It feels like home,” Bailey said of SIU. “The team aspect is what I really like. I’m gonna have to work really hard to get a spot on the team, because it’s gonna be hard. But I definitely can do it.”

Bailey qualified for state in the 400 as a sophomore and competed at the state cross country meet three times. This year would’ve made four, but the season ended with the sectionals due to the pandemic.

Bailey closed her cross country career in style by winning both the regional and the sectional titles by at least 40 seconds.

“I’m gonna treat this as state, so I did that, and I won, and it was the best feeling. It was the last race, and I got first. The finish was emotional. I kinda cried. I’m just gonna cruise it out (so) I can cherish these last moments of running in high school.”

Bailey hopes to keep running in high school with her senior season on the track, especially after COVID wiped out last season.