The cancellation of the spring sports season was a blow to all participating athletes, but a recent accolade helped ease some of the hurt for Baylee Stafford.
The Cody High School senior was recently awarded the Wilford Mower Memorial Award, given each year to outstanding senior athletes in both 1A/2A and 3A/4A in the Big Horn Basin and Fremont County.
“When I heard I won I had very limited information about it,” she said. “It’s a huge honor.”
Mower, a longtime coach at various schools in the basin, was killed in an automobile accident in 1959. His memory has been honored since 1960 with the presentation of this award. Girls were added in 1979.
Each school nominates a candidate based on his/her athletic achievements, academic accomplishments and citizenship traits. The candidates are then voted upon by representatives from 18 member schools.
“Baylee is a great representative for Cody High School, not only athletically, but academically,” said CHS activities director Tony Hult. “She’s a great leader.”
Stafford is a four-time All-State cross country runner, finishing third her sophomore, junior and senior seasons and seventh as a freshman. She helped the Fillies earn a state title last fall.
She also was a three-time All-State soccer player, and was named Underclassmen of the Year her junior season.
“She is a great leader,” soccer coach Marian Miears said. “She is gifted and has the speed, ball control and field awareness that I have never seen before. She was underestimated by opponents and was a huge reason no one scored on us last year at state.”
The Fillies won the state championship during her freshman-junior seasons and were one of the top contenders to repeat this year before the season was canceled.
“It was upsetting when we got the news because we had a strong team and the players are all super close,” Stafford said.
During the winter, Stafford played basketball her freshman and sophomore seasons before switching to indoor track as a junior. She came in 15th in the mile and ninth in the two-mile a few months ago at state.
“I’m satisfied (with my athletic career),” she said. “I just tried to soak it all in. Every season was different. The coolest part of sports is getting to be a team.”
A number of Cody girls has won the Mower Award in recent years, including Paige Powell in 2019, Laurel Place in 2014, Brooke Myers in 2012, Danielle Skinner in 2011 and Sierra Jech in 2010.
For the boys, Reece Andre won the award in 2018 and Brody Smith in 2016.
Stafford plans to attend the University of Wyoming in the fall, where she will run for the cross country and track teams.