ROCKINGHAM — There were a lot of late nights and early mornings for a pair of Richmond Senior High School senior student-athletes over the past four years. But with graduation just over two weeks away, it was all worth it.
Alex Anderson and Mason Bailey were announced as the valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively, for the graduating class of 2019 at Richmond’s annual academic awards ceremony last Thursday.
Both four-year athletes while in high school, the duo found Raider Magic in being able to balance a heavy course load while also playing sports.
Anderson and Bailey had identical scores on the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Each scored a 34/36 on the ACT, while finishing the SAT with a mark of 1490 out of 1600.
“It’s good for both of us because we’ve both taken a tough course load,” Anderson said. “It’s good to see all of the hard work pay off.
“It’s definitely a cool feeling being valedictorian,” he added. “I set this as my goal after my ninth-grade year, so to work toward something for four years and accomplish it, it’s a great feeling.”
Anderson, who played baseball for head coach Ricky Young the last couple of seasons, will be attending Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. There he plans to study the open curriculum until he decides which path of medicine to pursue.
He’ll also play baseball for the JHU Blue Jays, which are currently in the NCAA Division III Super Regionals.
Bailey, who was a four-year tennis player at Richmond, is set to begin his undergraduate career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He chose UNC over Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia, and will study either economics or nutrition.
An Eagle Scout with Troop 64 in Rockingham, Bailey plans to continue his tennis career by playing club or intramural tennis at UNC. During his senior year, Bailey jumped from fifth in his class to second.
“I wanted to play it easy my senior year, but my mom and my counselors pushed me,” Bailey smiled. “So, I loaded this year with a lot AP and Richmond Community College classes to make the jump.
“It feels good to have my hard work pay off and it’s nice to be recognized for my accomplishments,” he added.
The road to the top two spots of the class of 2019 has been filled with numerous Advanced Placement and RichmondCC classes for both Anderson and Bailey. Each participated in Richmond’s National Beta Club and National Honor Society.
Each student’s GPA helped determine his class ranking, as Anderson’s 4.76 was best in this year’s class. Bailey wasn’t far behind with a 4.73, and he was also awarded the Cole Undergraduate Scholarship.
During his senior season with the Raider baseball team this spring, Anderson only played two games before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. But he attended every practice and traveled with the team, as Richmond finished second in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings.
As of Wednesday, Anderson said he’s in his fourth week of rehab and should be back on the diamond within a month.
Bailey emerged as the Raider tennis team’s No. 4 player, the first year he played singles matches. He won five singles matches, while also pairing up with senior teammate Caleb Brewer to win three doubles matches in the No. 2 pairing.
“I prioritized my school work, obviously, and playing baseball allowed me to have a good time,” Anderson reflected. “I had to manage my time really well, and there were a lot of nights I stayed up late to finish assignments.”
“Playing tennis and finishing second in our class made me more disciplined,” Bailey echoed. “Being so busy allowed me to hone in on what I needed to do to be successful.”
Set to leave for his respective university in August, Anderson and Bailey hope to continue their successes inside and outside of the classroom.
“Being a student-athlete helped me out a lot,” Anderson closed. “I’m still playing in college, and my time at Richmond prepared me for the next step. I’ve taken these classes because I knew they simulated the course load I’ll have at Johns Hopkins.”
He added that he’s “excited” to join a Blue Jays program that has seen so much success this spring.
“Playing tennis made me more well-rounded and has prepared me for all types of situations,” Bailey concluded. “I’m looking forward to branching out in college, and UNC is very different than Richmond. I’m glad of that, and I’m ready to find out who I am.”