Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: After two years in cruise control, Timberview track star Aldrich Bailey ready to take it up a notch
ARLINGTON — For two years, Aldrich Bailey has dusted the competition in the 400 meters without running the full race. The Mansfield Timberview senior always zips to the front early, but he tends to relax on the backstretch, knowing that he can squash any challenge in the final 100.
But at the Class 5A Region I meet two weeks ago, he decided to push himself the entire race. The result was a national high school record time of 45.19 seconds.
“My coach was telling me to quit holding back,” Bailey said. “I’ve got to run every race like that now.”
If Bailey does, everyone else in the 400 will be battling for second at this weekend’s University Interscholastic League track and field state meet. Bailey’s time of 45.19 is more than two seconds faster than any other 5A qualifier.
Bailey’s time broke the regional meet record set in 2002 by Arlington’s Jeremy Wariner, who won gold in the event at the 2004 Olympics. The time also earned Bailey, 18, an invitation to the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer in Eugene, Ore.
He’s not sure if he will compete in the trials because it could conflict with the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do,” said Bailey, who has signed with Texas A&M. “It’s a win-win situation.”
As the state meet arrives, winning is foremost on Bailey’s mind. And not just in the 400, which he won last year with a time of 46.78. He’s also the anchor of Timberview’s two state relays.
Timberview’s 4x400 relay, with Tamar Hicks, Jacques Lewis and Anthony Todd, is the fastest 5A qualifier. The 4x100 relay team, with Talo Paschal, Sherman Long and Lewis, is not only the fastest in Texas, it’s ranked No. 2 in the nation.
“Our main goal is to beat DeSoto,” Lewis said. “We’ve been living in their shadow for years.”
Bailey doesn’t run in anyone’s shadow anymore. He’s always been serious about track, but he was also a lightning quick football player. That ended in the sixth grade, when in a football scrimmage, Bailey broke his femur.
Yes, his femur.
“Breaking the biggest bone in your body is not fun,” Bailey said. “When you do that, you get a sign that maybe football is not for you.”
He dropped basketball a few years later. Track, he knew, was the sport that needed his focus — and that focus shows now.
“He works hard, and he tries to get his teammates to work just as hard,” Timberview track coach Rayford Ross said. “He’s a pretty good guy to have out there.”
If Bailey wins the 400 and anchors two relay victories Saturday, there’s a slight chance that Timberview could win the 5A title with 50 points. But Timberview probably won’t be able to match DeSoto, which could max out at a whopping 118.
Fifty points would be fine with Bailey.
“That means I come home with three gold medals,” he said.
He also wants to come home with a personal-best in the 400. To get under 45 seconds, there won’t be any relaxing on the backstretch.
“I’m almost satisfied, but I want to break 45,” he said. “That’s the plan.”
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UIL state track meet
Friday and Saturday, UT’s Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin
Competition begins at 8 a.m. each day. 2A and 4A finals are Friday; 1A, 3A and 5A finals are Saturday
Tickets: Student: $5 per session. Adult: $10 per session. All-session ticket: $25. Saturday only ticket (good for both Sat. sessions): $15.