Dulaney High runner Drew Dailey has been known for his amazing ability to rally for victories with a strong finishing kick in distance races.
The 2019 graduate left a lasting impression by doing that twice on the final day of his high school track career.
At the Class 4A state championship meet, held at Morgan State University, Dailey won state titles in the 800 and 1600 meters by less than a second in each event.
His impressive senior year, which also included winning a state title indoors in the 1600 (4:18.09) and his second straight Baltimore County cross country championship (16:07.8), earned him selection as the 2019 Towson Times Male Athlete of the Year.
At the outdoor state meet, Dailey captured the 1600 in a school and personal-record record time of 4:14.60.
He narrowly held off Richard Montgomery’s Garrett Suhr.
“That 4:14 is the fastest mile track time in my 23 outdoor track seasons,” Dulaney coach Chad Boyle said. “In the mile, Garrett was really holding on and Drew really had to go to the well and just outlast him.”
Dailey admitted he had some butterflies before the 1600.
“I was definitely more nervous for the 1600 because it was my first big event for the state meet and I went through the whole morning just thinking about when the 1600 is over and it’s just like you relax after that and then you go straight into the 800,” Dailey said.
“The last 100 meters it was me and him basically neck and neck and he took a step ahead with about 50 to go and then I knew the state championship was on the line, so I just gave it everything I had and I made it by a second, so I would say about 30 meters to go was when I really started to pull ahead by that last second,” Dailey said.
A few hours later, in the 800, Dailey ran a 154.30 personal-best time and held off Severna Park’s Alex Chaisson (1:54.74) to help the Lions finish second in the 4A meet behind Northwest.
“In that race, he was a little more in control,” Boyle said. “The mile you could tell he was really working and, not that he wasn’t running a fast 800, but I feel like the 800 was a little smoother for him. It kind of set up in his wheelhouse like he likes to run the races and he got a clean breakaway and once he broke away I said to myself, ‘This race is over.’ And no one had a response.”
When Dailey needs to respond with a kick to win, he does it with confidence.
“I’ve always had that confidence that if the race is there and I’m in range to catch him, I could do it and it just all came together at the state meet,” Dailey said.
Dailey’s ability to close was magnified during his junior year of cross country at the Baltimore County championship meet.
He out-kicked Loch Raven’s Garrett Harris and senior teammate Brian McCullough, winning the race in 16:19.6 compared to McCullough’s 16:19.7.
“Once I kicked past the kid in second [Harris], that’s when I knew I could get Brian,” said Dailey after the race.
In addition to having confidence to win tight races, Dailey maintained a strong work ethic and mental approach to training.
“As a runner, when you get to train for that amount of time you really do start to learn yourself, when to back off in training and when to really turn it on in training and he’s perfected that and that’s what makes him able to peak when it matters, which is easy to say, but to actually do it is another thing,” Boyle said. “You could talk to 10 runners and not many of them are able to do it.”
During the indoor season, Dailey won four 1600-meter races, including the regionals and states and won five 800s, including the counties and regionals.
He won the 1600 at states and finished 10th in the 800.
“The challenge indoors is just the meet is so quick, it’s really difficult for anybody to really double back in anything,” Boyle said.
“I think the most special thing to happen to me this year was the 1600 indoor because it was the first time I realized myself that I had a chance to win a state championship and that I was confident to win it,” Dailey said. “That whole two-week period before the state meet I was like every single day, every minute I was looking forward to it and when the day finally got there and I finally did it, it was like the biggest relief I’ve ever felt.”
As a sophomore in 2016, Dailey was 40th at the state cross country championships and he helped the Lions win their second straight state title. His time that year was 17:22.31.
Last fall as a senior, Dailey was sixth overall for the third-place Lions in the 4A cross country championships in a personal-record time of 16:24.50.
Eric Walz, a 2016 Dulaney graduate remains the only Lion to win an individual cross country state title.
He posted a time of 16:06 when he won it in 2015.
Boyle compares Dailey to former Lion distance standouts like Walz, Billy Duffy and Vince Walsh.
“He (Dailey) is leaving Dulaney as one of the top four or five athletes probably ever, including the people that [former coach] Bob Dean and other coaches had in their time at Dulaney. His 4:14 is nothing to sneeze at, that’s a really great time and 1:54 is a great time.”
“Cross country was great, it was a great season this year and I really think track is my main sport and to be able to finish sixth at the state meet at such a high level that was good too,” he said. “And to be looked at on the same level as Eric Walz because I’ve always looked up to him was also great.”