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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – From the moment she arrived at West High four years ago it was obvious Bailey Nock exhibited many of the desired traits of a distance runner.
From natural ability and physical makeup to speed and endurance Nock seemed to possess the whole package.
At least physically.
It was everything else that went into becoming a dominant distance runner that Nock needed to add.
“When she first got here as a freshman you could see her talent but she had so much to learn,” West High coach Mike Parker said. “It was like her talent was way ahead of her knowledge.”
There were plenty of lessons for Nock during the early years of her prep career.
Race strategy, training tips, every bit of knowledge that Parker could impart Nock soaked up.
The toughest and among the most important lessons for Nock was patience.
“The hardest thing to learn for me is that you have to be patient,” Nock said. “You have to realize that you cannot expect end results at the beginning or the middle. You have to be patient, trust the training and know that you don’t want to peak at the start. You get into the meet and you want to break the meet record but you just have to be patient.”
Nock didn’t have to wait long for results, she earned seven state meet medals in her first two seasons.
It was tougher for her to learn the patience it took to be among the state’s best.
Every time she toed the starting line as a freshman or sophomore she expected a personal, school or meet record.
Nock admits that mindset resulted in some extra pressure and unnecessary frustration.
“One of the things that we constantly tell her is that we can’t have the expectation of breaking a record every time because our records are really hard to break,” Parker said. “Girls that are really good they don’t get the opportunity to have those lifetime bests very often. That is a struggle for those elite level people.”
Nock has improved physically from her freshman and sophomore seasons but has made her bigger gains in her mind.
Now a senior, Nock is older, wiser and more dominant than ever.
A three-event state champ a year ago Nock enters her final season with a chance to cement her status as one of the best ever in the history of the storied West High program.
“She has listened well, she has been coachable and so now her knowledge is every bit as far along as her talent is,” Parker said. “When those two things come together, wow.”
Wow is the best way to describe the junior season for Nock.
Nock swept the distance events at the Class 4A state meet last May claiming the first three gold medals of her career.
In addition to winning the 1,500 and 3,000 Nock anchored the West High distance medley relay team to a title and added a fourth-place finish in the 800 to help the Women of Troy to a runner-up team finish.
In her final go around at West High the Colorado recruit wants more.
“This is my last everything, my last home meet, my last Drake Relays my last state meet so I have big goals but I’m going to look around and enjoy it,” Nock said. “I’m going to enjoy being on the team, enjoy practice and try to make sure I am doing everything I can to be the best I can be.”
Nock is already among the best ever at West High.
By the time her senior year ends her combination of ability and knowledge could put her in a category all her own.
Her career-best time of 10:00.13 in the 3,000 is less than two seconds off the nearly 20 year old school record held by Jeni Frudden.
Nock’s 1,500 time of 4:39.48 trails the all-time mark by Frudden by less than three seconds and she is fewer than two ticks off Tia Saunders’ record in the 800.
“We talk a lot about Jenni Frudden around here, she has done everything, we talk about her and Jessica Gehrke probably more than anybody and our girls want to take those girls’ place,” Parker said. “Someone wants to take the place of Jess and someone wants to take Jenni’s place. As strange as that might be a motivation that is an important thing for her and she is on course and that is exciting.”
Nock has learned she can’t set records every day.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t aiming for it and according to Parker she is on pace.
A strong indoor season has Nock further ahead of where she has been to open the season than ever before.
“She is off to the best start of her life,” Parker said. “We have run the 3,000 the 1,500 and the 800 and she has met the Drake Relays gold standard in all of those already. All of those are indoor lifetime bests, better than she did at those meets before.”
Nock has goals.
She wants a Drake Relays title and to follow up her state titles in both the 1,500 and 3,000.
What she wants more than anything else is something that she’s never had and something that West High has not gotten since 2010 – a state team title.
“The biggest goal is I have never been a part of a team that has won state,” Nock said. “I’ve watched teams win state but I have never been on the team. This year I just want everyone to push themselves because I know that we have a chance but we have to work harder than we ever had to win it.”