Naomi Bailey joins exclusive company by earning second Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year honors

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 8:32 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It has been a decorated calendar year for recent West Valley graduate Naomi Bailey. She kicked-off the historic year by winning the Division I Alaska State Cross Country Championship in October, setting a course record along the way at 17:56. Her performance earned her the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year in girl’s cross country as the state’s best distance runner.

Ahead of the spring track and field season, Bailey committed to run for her hometown at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, joining the Nanooks’ cross country program this fall.

At the State Track and Field meet, Bailey swept the distance events by claiming victory in the 800m (2:16.92), 1600m (5:00.28) and the 3200m (10:46.54) for three individual championships, while her West Valley program took the team title over the top athletes in the state. She was also named the Outstanding Female Athlete at the state championship meet.

Her dominant performance was rightfully recognized once again, as Bailey was tabbed the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year for Girls Track and Field as well.

“Naomi has dramatically improved every year since entering high school, to become one of the strongest high school runners ever in Alaska,” said West Valley distance coach Dan Callahan in the Gatorade press release. “She has developed into a very knowledgeable racer, able to train independently and compete at the highest level.”

Naomi Bailey is the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year for Girls Cross-Country Running (Photo...
Naomi Bailey is the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year for Girls Cross-Country Running (Photo October 10, 2020 at the Alaska State XC Championships at Kincaid Park)(KTUU)

Bailey becomes the first girls athlete to win both awards since Kenai’s Allie Ostrander in 2014-15, who is now a professional athlete that was one race away from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

In addition to her success on the trails and track, Bailey also maintained a 4.09 GPA in the classroom and has the opportunity to award a $1,000 grant to a local or national youth sports organization of their choosing through Gatorade’s “Play it Forward” initiative.

The future Nanook also becomes the first to win the award out of Fairbanks in the girls division since Maggie Callahan (West Valley) in 2005-06. Hailey Williams, the former Delta Husky now Duke Blue Devil, won the award in both 2018-19 and 2019-20.

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