Just one race into her second year, IU cross-country sophomore Bailey Hertenstein went somewhere no cross-country runner wearing cream and crimson has ever gone. The sophomore from Florida was named the NCAA Women’s National Cross-Country Athlete of the Week by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Tuesday afternoon.
Even with numerous elite runners in IU cross-country history, Hertenstein is the first Hoosier to take home the award. Her heroics came Saturday at the Commodore Classic in Nashville, Tennessee.
In her first race of the season, she held off 2017 All-American and 2018 First Team All-SEC runner Jessica Drop of Georgia by 0.5 seconds in a sprint finish. Her first meet victory was a performance few saw coming. However, Hertenstein did not expect to receive the award even after her thrilling victory.
“In one word it’s unreal,” said Hertenstein. “I could not understand how, out of everyone to choose from, they chose me.”
The award serves to recognize the top time or biggest victory of the week but factors in the “most significant performances on a national landscape,” the “quality of a meet” and an exciting finish. Her breakout performance at one of the top cross-country meets in the nation and a thrilling finish earned her national acclaim.
With all the attention, Hertensten is still remaining humble.
“I have the amazing opportunity everyday to work alongside an amazing group of girls and coaches and it means so much to know our hard work is being noticed,” said Hertenstein. “This award isn’t just a reflection of me, but a reflection of a phenomenal program as a whole.”