In the county championships, Bailey ran 20 seconds beyond his personal-best, but he still beat his closest competition — Sequoyah’s Christopher Costa — by 5 seconds.
It was Bailey’s first victory in a varsity race.
The story was similar throughout the season as the Woodstock junior finished near the top of the leaderboard in every race he entered. Over the course of the season, he was the top Wolverine finisher in every race.
Against county competition, Bailey was second-to-none. He raced head-to-head against Costa, a highly regarded runner, and beat him three times. Competing in the Class AAAAAA state meet as an individual, Bailey finished 13th overall with a time of 16:53.25.
For his accomplishments throughout the season, Bailey is the 2013 Cherokee Tribune Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.
Bailey said he was excited about how he performed during the season.
“I was happy with my second-place region fishing. I was able to run with Kenan,” Bailey said. “He is pretty good and pretty fast. But then county was the first race that I ever won in high school. I was pretty pumped about that. I was a lot more excited about region, though, because Kenan is a phenomenal runner and I was just glad that I was able to stay with him.”
Bailey has been running cross country since he was in seventh grade, and he has one more season remaining in high school. In that final year, he hopes to take another trip to the state tournament — and take his team with him.
“I’m pretty excited about next year,” he said. “Hopefully, I can run better at state and maybe get a region title. I would be happy with that. It would definitely be cool.”
This year, Bailey competed in the state meet just days after having surgery on a toe.
“That was still kind of healing, so it wasn’t a great race for me, but it was still fun,” Bailey said.
According to Bailey, the best part of the season was just being a part of the Woodstock team.
“I have played pretty much every sport you can imagine,” he said. “But I haven’t found anything like this team before. We pretty much do everything together. That is my good group of friends.”
Bailey sees a bright future for Woodstock’s cross country program. One of the rising runners in the program is his younger brother, Austin, while sophomores Corey Champion and John Baumgartner are already staples on the varsity squad.
“Pretty much our whole varsity is juniors or freshmen or sophomores,” Owen Bailey said. “We have three or four seniors who will be gone, but, hopefully, we can develop and get faster for next season.”
Up next for Bailey is the Foot Locker Southern Regional in Charlotte, N.C. With a field of some of the top prep runners in the South, some of whom have sub-15-minute times, Bailey is hoping to see his personal-best dip into the 15:30s.
“I would be really happy with that,” he said.