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Bulldog Trio Signs in Piedmont

Piedmont’s Claudia Dempsey (seated, center) poses with her parents and teammates during Monday’s ceremony to mark signings for three Piedmont athletes. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Claudia Dempsey (seated, center) poses with her parents and teammates during Monday’s ceremony to mark signings for three Piedmont athletes. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Piedmont, AL – Piedmont track standouts Dempsey, Ray and wrestler Bailey sign to compete on, in college … Ray at Binghamton, Dempsey at Millsaps and Bailey at Montevallo.

By Joe Medley

Lexi Ray learned to vault high in high school, and she’s relishing in the chance to vault far.

Ray joined two other Piedmont High athletes participating in Monday’s signing ceremony in the lobby of the school’s gymnasium, signing to carry on her pole vaulting career at Binghamton University, in New York.

Track teammate Claudia Dempsey, who ran cross country and completed in the 400-meter dash in track, signed with Millsaps College, and Izak Bailey will wrestle on for the University of Montevallo.

Piedmont’s Claudia Dempsey (seated, center) poses with her parents and teammates during Monday’s ceremony to mark signings for three Piedmont athletes. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Claudia Dempsey (seated, center) poses with her parents and teammates during Monday’s ceremony to mark signings for three Piedmont athletes. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Piedmont’s Lexi Ray (seated, right) signs Monday as her Piedmont coaches look on. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Lexi Ray (seated, right) signs Monday as her Piedmont coaches look on. (Photo by Joe Medley)

For Ray, Binghamton was the chance to actualize her New York state of mind.

“I’ve just kind of always felt drawn to bigger cities,” Ray said. “My sister lives in Nashville, since she moved away, so it’s kind of easier for me to feel like it was OK to move away.

“I am in love with New York. I always have been. It’s just kind of been something that I’ve always known I wanted to eventually live in New York City. College is just a great opportunity to make that move.”

Before vaulting far, Ray has proved she can vault high. Her finishes include outdoor state runner-up (2022 and 2023), third indoor, third indoor (2022) and Calhoun County champion (2022). She’s tied the school record of 9 feet, six inches and hopes to break it this spring.

‘I would feel incredibly accomplished to make it in double digits and break the school record at 10 feet,” she said.

Dempsey was set on attending Auburn University until the Millsaps opportunity arose.

“They just recruited me out of the blue,” she said. “I completely changed my life around a month ago.”

In cross country, Dempsey is an All-Calhoun County performer and two-time state qualifier. In track, she’s finished seventh in the 400 and 18th in the 1,600. Her cross country personal record is 21:20, at sectional.

Piedmont’s Izak Bailey (seated, right) poses for pictures with his coach and family during Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Piedmont’s Izak Bailey (seated, right) poses for pictures with his coach and family during Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Bailey went 1-2 at the state wrestling championships in Huntsville after finishing fifth at sectional in the 132-pound. A call from Montevallo wrestling coach Daniel Ownbey made Bailey’s disappointment over his state finish short lived.

“I had a fluke that day. It was just one of them days,” he said. “He texted me afterwards and was like, ‘I know it didn’t go how you wanted it to. So, what are you doing after high school?’

“I was like ‘Well, I’d really love to wrestle for you all.’ He was like, ‘Well, you have to fill out this form,’ and it went from there.”

Lexi Ray’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony at Piedmont. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Lexi Ray’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony at Piedmont. (Photo by Joe Medley)

Claudia Dempsey’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley
Claudia Dempsey’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley

Izak Bailey’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)
Izak Bailey’s memorabilia table for Monday’s signing ceremony. (Photo by Joe Medley)

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