Bailey Nock became a household name in the distance running world of Iowa after an incredible junior year between the 2016 XC and 2017 Track seasons. She first turned heads during the 2016 Cross Country season after taking the win at the Iowa State High School Cross Country Championships after being ranked 4th coming in. Many believed the win would come down to junior Jessica McKee of Johnston and senior Gabby Skopec, Nock's Iowa City West teammate. With about a quarter mile left in the race, Nock took over the lead from McKee, who had previously led the entire race, and quickly formed a gap, winning by a good margin. The rest of the year was a whirlwind of W's for Nock, crossing the line first in an exceptional amount of indoor and outdoor track races. She became a three-time individual state champion between Cross Country and Track, where she won both the 3000M and 1500M races.
Very few would have predicted that Nock would start her trail of wins at the XC State Championships, but Nock had confidence she could take the challenge. "I started my junior year kind of unsure in my own abilities. I had lost some confidence after an underwhelming track season my sophomore year, and wasn't sure what I was capable of doing. However, as cross country went on I gained confidence in myself and that I can be a state champion if I work hard enough for it. State cross country was fun because not a lot of people thought I was going to win." She credits always going the metaphorical extra mile for her huge improvements between her sophomore and junior years, including consistent training during the off-seasons. "During the summer I made sure I wasn't skipping the details like ab workouts and nutrition and made sure I stayed healthy and wasn't pushing my body too much. During the winter I increased mileage and I focused more on my distance training and less on speed work." Beyond her control, Nock also believes a strong support system is what helped her get to the next level in competition, stating that her "teammates were a huge part of my success. They pushed me everyday in workouts and were super supportive at meets. They helped me through disappointing times and motivated me to do well and get better."
Many wondered what the track season would bring for Nock, if the win in cross country was a lucky break, or if this Iowa City West Trojan was in it for the long haul. Little did the skeptics know that she was all in, and "ready to work hard because I knew what it took to win a state title and wanted to make sure I did everything I could to be the best I could possibly be." The State meet was a long weekend for Nock after competing in various distance races, including the 3000M, 1500M, and 800M. She went into the state meet with the mentality that "everything I accomplished would be going towards the team score, so I wanted to do well for my team. My teammates had helped me get to the state meet so I owed it to them to do my best and get the most points possible." Nock's races helped lead the Iowa City West team to a runner-up finish behind Waukee with a team score of 89 points, a full 33 points ahead of the 3rd place finisher Southeast Polk.
When asked what her plans were as the track season ended, Nock "took some time to get refocused for cross country and I gave my body a rest." But there is little rest for the dedicated, as Nock is now in the full swing of summer training! She plans for her training to be similar to last summer, "except this year will be more intense because we know what I'm capable of and I'll need to do more to get to the next level." As she logs her training runs, Bailey is focused on improving her cross country PR "and continually get better as the season goes on. This is a completely new season so I know I can't not take training seriously. That being said, what I accomplished last season is another huge goal of mine." The burning question that many are wondering is whether Nock plans to compete in college. In the next few months, many athletes will begin taking official visits, signing their letters of intent, and preparing to meet goals and expectations to earn scholarship money. "As of now I'm keeping my options open. I plan on visiting some places this summer." One can only guess what schools she is considering, but many are hoping to keep her in Iowa boundaries. Beyond college, Nock has some exciting goals, "It'd be a blessing to run in college and it's a big dream of mine to run after college professionally."
Want to see more? Check out Bailey's athlete profile, and a post-race interview with her from the State Championships!