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Firebirds’ Bailey to run, hoop at William Peace

Posted on June 5, 2021

SportsSchool Sports
Southern Nash’s Darrin Bailey, running during the 4x800-meter relay at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as a sophomore on April 15, 2019, will run track and cross-country at William Peace University.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash’s Darrin Bailey, running during the 4x800-meter relay at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as a sophomore on April 15, 2019, will run track and cross-country at William Peace University.

Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey, front right, recently signed to run track and play basketball at William Peace University. Witnessing the signing are, clockwise from bottom right, cousin Bailey Lucas, grandmother Edith Bailey, Firebirds basketball coach and athletic director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, track assistant coach Buddy Williams and track head coach Sterling Leonard.

Contributed photo

Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey, front right, recently signed to run track and play basketball at William Peace University. Witnessing the signing are, clockwise from bottom right, cousin Bailey Lucas, grandmother Edith Bailey, Firebirds basketball coach and athletic director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, track assistant coach Buddy Williams and track head coach Sterling Leonard.

Southern Nash’s Darrin Bailey, running during the 4x800-meter relay at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as a sophomore on April 15, 2019, will run track and cross-country at William Peace University.

Sheldon Vick | Special to The Enterprise

Southern Nash’s Darrin Bailey, running during the 4x800-meter relay at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as a sophomore on April 15, 2019, will run track and cross-country at William Peace University.

Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey, front right, recently signed to run track and play basketball at William Peace University. Witnessing the signing are, clockwise from bottom right, cousin Bailey Lucas, grandmother Edith Bailey, Firebirds basketball coach and athletic director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, track assistant coach Buddy Williams and track head coach Sterling Leonard.

Contributed photo

Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey, front right, recently signed to run track and play basketball at William Peace University. Witnessing the signing are, clockwise from bottom right, cousin Bailey Lucas, grandmother Edith Bailey, Firebirds basketball coach and athletic director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, track assistant coach Buddy Williams and track head coach Sterling Leonard.

Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey, front right, recently signed to run track and play basketball at William Peace University. Witnessing the signing are, clockwise from bottom right, cousin Bailey Lucas, grandmother Edith Bailey, Firebirds basketball coach and athletic director Robbie Kennedy, Southern Nash principal Hugh Scott, track assistant coach Buddy Williams and track head coach Sterling Leonard.
Southern Nash’s Darrin Bailey, running during the 4x800-meter relay at the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as a sophomore on April 15, 2019, will run track and cross-country at William Peace University.

paul@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7808

Blessed with an array of athletic talents, Southern Nash High senior Darrin Bailey is happy to not have to take them too far away for his next endeavor. The Firebirds’ four-sport athlete will narrow his focus, somewhat, to track and field and cross-country after signing with NCAA Division III William Peace University recently.

While Bailey didn’t get any other offers, he will also have a chance to try out for the Pacers basketball team. In all, he said that William Peace felt like the right move for him.

“It was my only opportunity, but it was close to home, I decided to stay home and be close to my family,” said Bailey, who will get a significant amount of academic money. Division III schools do not give athletic scholarships. Bailey said his cousin and former Southern Nash teammate Chris Allen, who just finished his freshman year at William Peace, helped convince him it was the right place for him, too.

“He told me it was a great opportunity to go to a private school right there in Raleigh, so I’m pretty blessed that it’s this close,” Bailey said. “They gave me an opportunity to run there, so I’m going to take full of advantage of this opportunity.”

The son of Amanda Brown of Zebulon and Darin Bailey of Bailey said he was undecided on business and finance or trade.

Bailey, who ran cross-country and played football and basketball at Southern Nash this year, leads the Firebirds in both the 800- and 1,600-meter runs and has posted the best high jump in the 3-A Big East Conference. He also anchors Southern Nash’s 4x800 relay.

Firebirds head coach Sterling Leonard said he told former WPU coach B.T. Pham about Bailey when Pham was recruiting a pair of 2020 seniors who ultimately didn’t sign with William Peace.

“The guys that had opportunities to go to college, he always compared to them,” Leonard said. “The difference between Darrin is what he does vertically as an athlete. You take track out of it, he can dunk a basketball. I mean, the things that he does. What I always told him was, ‘You’ll never run against a guy that’s more athletic than you and if you train like them, you have a chance.’ And he bought into it.”

Bailey played football for the for first time this season and didn’t run track until his sophomore season. That means this is just his second season since the 2020 campaign ended after two meets due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That Bailey is emerging as a dual qualifier for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association championship comes as no surprise to Leonard.

“He’s just so rare in that category of guys I’ve had and have been around that can’t do what Darrin can do,” he said, while adding: “I think he’ll be a better college runner than he was in high school.”

Bailey said he will definitely run the 800 in college but wasn’t sure if he would try the 400 or the 1,600. He is, however, sure that track is the path for him, even though he still loves basketball.

“It’s not been my top-tier favorite because basketball is my favorite sport, but track is right there behind it,” he said. “I’m good at it and everybody knows how I’m good at it, so I pretty much like where I’m at right now.”

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