An injury took away a good chunk of Paige Baird’s senior year of athletics, but the Northern Valley standout still has a chance to end her outstanding high school career on a high note.
Baird, a three-sport star, suffered a stress fracture in her fibula late in the volleyball season and missed the entire basketball season.
But Baird recovered in time for track, returning to form as an elite sprinter and hurdler for the Huskies.
“I was hoping I would be ready for track, which was possible,” Baird said. “I’m super happy I could get back going.”
Baird, a regional champion in four events last week, said she eased her way back into track before returning to 100 percent.
“It took a little time throughout the weeks,” said Baird, who has signed to play volleyball at Fort Hays State. “I took it easy the first couple of weeks, but then after that, I realized that it was all healed up.
“It’s awesome (to be back at full strength), especially for my senior year.”
Baird is the three-time defending Class 1A state champion in the 400 and she won 300 hurdles as a sophomore. She’s earned several other state medals throughout career, including taking second in the 200, second in the 300 hurdles and third in the 100 hurdles last year.
“I’m feeling really confident in the 400,” Baird said. “The 300 hurdles are right after that, and that will be tough, but I believe I can hopefully place at state.”
At the regional meet in Hill City last Thursday, Baird won the 200 (26.84), the 400 (1:00.62), the 100 hurdles (15.22) and the 300 hurdles (50.51).
“It was a great day and I’m really confident (for state),” Baird said. “I’ll do my best and see what happens.”
The Northern Valley boys also turned in a strong regional outing, capturing the team title. This season marks the last for longtime Huskies' coach Chuck Fessenden, who is retiring after 43 years at Northern Valley.
Ivan Varela won the 100 and 400 for the Huskies at regionals, while Caden Bach, last year’s state champion in the javelin and the high jump, won the javelin with a throw of 195 feet, 1 inch. The Huskies’ 1,600-meter relay team also claimed gold.
Check HDNnews.net and the print editions for more state track preview coverage throughout the week.