Bailey Smith didn't begin competing in hurdle events for the Hartley girls track and field team until a little more than a year ago, but that didn't keep her from reaching the 2019 Division II state meet.

It helps that Smith, whose senior season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, had an extensive background in jumping.

"I did competitive cheerleading for a while, so jumping and tumbling have never really been an issue for me," Smith said. "I also did diving, so just being comfortable in the air and not being afraid to trip or fall helped. I'd say (competing in) the postseason of track, just being able to run an event, I'll always be able to remember."

Smith, who plans to compete for Tennessee State, had reason for high hopes this spring based on the improvements she made the past two seasons.

As a sophomore, Smith was on the Hawks' ninth-place 400-meter relay (51.3 seconds) and finished 14th in the 100 (13.21) at regional.

Then as a junior a year ago, she finished 11th in the 100 hurdles (15.72) and was on the 14th-place 400 relay with England Ladd, Alexis Wade and Kayla Walker (50.32) at state. This spring, Wade was a senior, Ladd a junior and Walker a sophomore.

Smith had qualified for state in the 100 hurdles by placing second (15.09) at regional.

She capped her prep career by competing in two events at the Division I state indoor meet March 7 at SPIRE Institute in Geneva, finishing ninth in the 60 hurdles (9.19) and running on the ninth-place 800 relay with sophomores Zaria Robinson and Jaiden Stratton and freshman Alex Etienne (1:45.72).

"She had a great season last year and had a great indoor season this year," coach Reggie Osborne said. "Bailey's a multi-faceted athlete. She was really geared up at trying to make it to the state meet again. The hardest part is watching their state dreams get deferred. It's also watching them have to miss their proms, their special senior events when they're together, that's what makes things special for seniors and they're missing all of that. But kind of a small mantra is that track and field is not who we are, it's something we come together and do."

Smith, who resides in the south side of Columbus, tried to keep in shape this spring by occasionally running when the tracks at Gahanna Middle School East and West were open as well as at Franklin Park and Hoover Dam.

Her mother, Benita, competed in track and field at Wehrle and her father, Kioshi, played football for Mifflin.

Tennessee State, which is in Nashville, is coached by Chandra Cheeseborough-Guice, who was named to three U.S. Olympic teams and placed sixth in the 100 in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. She has been named the Ohio Valley Conference Women's Outdoor Coach of the Year four times.

Tennessee State finished sixth in the OVC indoor meet Feb. 27 in Birmingham, Alabama, but that was the program's final meet before the NCAA canceled spring sports.

"I'm very involved in the climate of things going on in the world and in our nation and voice my opinion, so maybe I'll be a political correspondent," said Smith, who is considering studying broadcast journalism and political science.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek