Joey Baylus had been a steady
and consistent contributor to the Merrimack Valley indoor track and field team for years, but the senior had a breakout season this winter, winning the high jump and finishing third in the 55-meter hurdles to lead the Pride to third place in
Baylus cleared six feet to win the high jump, a milestone that eluded him until the D-II state meet. Baylus improved over his sixth-place finish in the event in 2016.
“Usually when I come out I’m nervous, but today I was really comfortable, really calm,” Baylus said at the meet, after clearing 6-0 for the first time in his career on his second attempt. “Finally, after two seasons, I finally made that milestone ... everything was perfect. Everything was fluid.”
Baylus also finished third in the 55 hurdles in 8.08 seconds, trailing teammate and fellow senior Brandon Wood. Baylus qualified for the hurdle finals in 2016, but did not score, finishing seventh.
Relays were also key to MV’s success, and Baylus, along with Wood and classmate Dylan Guinard, formed the base of the third-place 4x400 and fifth-place 4x200 relays.
For the most part, the Pride were overlooked and not expected to be a title contender, but when the D-II state meet came, MV was in the hunt for the title until the last event. Thanks in part to Baylus’s improvements, the Pride finished third with 40 points, a significant jump from its 22-point, sixth-place performance in Division II last year.
“These kids overachieved,” MV Coach Bob Mullen said. “We really felt that this was the year the boys had to step it up. All season long we were training to win this meet. There was some phenomenal talent and two good teams beat us, but Joey Baylus set the tone with his championship in the high jump. He had a great week of training in the high jump (leading up to the state meet) and has been solid in the hurdles all along.”
Baylus also had a dominant regular season, winning the high jump three times in six regular-season meets and never finishing lower than third. Baylus also finished second in the 55 hurdles three times and never finished lower than fourth.