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Penn Hills' Bailey to run at Mount Union

| Saturday, July 29, 2017, 12:41 a.m.
Penn Hills' Isaiah Bailey competes at the PIAA championship meet May 27, 2017, in Shippensburg.
Don Rich | For the Tribune-Review
Penn Hills' Isaiah Bailey competes at the PIAA championship meet May 27, 2017, in Shippensburg.

The process of deciding on a college choice is different for everyone. Penn Hills' Isaiah Bailey was no exception, and he finally decided where he attend this fall.

On July 11, Bailey announced on Twitter his plans to attend Mount Union, a Division III school in Alliance, Ohio, to run cross country and track.

Bailey joins a couple other track athletes who will compete at the next level. Brennon Hill, who was part of the 1,600-meter relay team with Bailey, will attend Youngstown State, while distance runner Cole Bishop will run at Bowdoin in Maine.

When Bailey stepped on campus June 15, he immediately got the feeling Mount Union would be a perfect fit. This past season, Mount Union won the 1,600-meter relay at the NCAA Division III championships.

Bailey also considered Wesley College, Bethany College and IUP.

“Mount Union was a great experience. I toured a D-I school, a D-II school, and for a D-III to look that nice and everything, I just knew it was good fit for me,” Bailey said.

“I like the track team, which was the main thing I was focusing on, and I saw all of their accomplishments in track and I want to be a part of it.”

Along with having a comfortable feeling with the campus, Bailey also received a familiar feeling from the coaches.

“The coaches felt like my high school coach,” he said. “They are going to make sure I'm on top of my game. They are going to make sure my grades are good. They are going to make sure I'm going to practice and class.”

During his senior season, Bailey finished second in the 800 after a personal best 1 minute, 54.05 seconds at the WPIAL championships. He was 10th (1:55.21) at the PIAA meet.

Bailey was part of the 1,600 relay team with fellow seniors Azeiryus Britt, Cam Jeffries and Hill that finished second in 3:20.78 at WPIALs. At the state meet, the relay team was unable to qualify for the finals.

“With everything I was going through, I think I finished really good,” Bailey said. “My times were slower this year. But I had a breaking point where I just came through and started to get better.”

Bailey's breaking point was at the Butler Invitational, where he dropped time from his junior season. He attributed the drop to extra work he put in outside of practice and on the weekends in the weight room.

Bailey, who will study computer science, has carried that same attitude as he gets ready for his freshman season. Bailey is keeping a simple approach as he looks to build momentum for college athletics.

“I have been doing a lot of mileage as I get ready for cross country so I can actually go against some of these guys on my team,” Bailey said. “I know they are going to be good. If I have a good cross country season, I will have a good track season after that.”

Andrew John is a freelance writer.

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