University of St. Francis runners honored by NAIA

Morris’ Sabrina Baftiri, Dwight’s Daly Galloway were among three who earned Academic All-America mention

Sabrina Baftiri

AUSTIN, Texas — Three members of the University of St. Francis women’s cross country/track & field team produced another historic moment for the program when they were named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) NAIA Academic All-America Team on Tuesday. Morris graduate Sabrina Baftiri earned a spot on the first team, while Katherine Bakken and Dwight’s Daly Galloway garnered second team recognition.

It marks the first time in school history that any USF athletic team has had as many as three honorees on the CoSIDA team in the same year.

Taylor University (Ind.) was the only other school to boast three recipients among the 20-person list, which was broken down into an 11-member first team and a nine-member second team.

The award closes out an incredible five-year career for Baftiri, who was recognized as a NAIA All-American on 17 occasions between her time on the cross country course and track. In the former sport, she earned the honors by placing 18th in the nation at the NAIA National Championships in 2019 and 17th in both 2020 and 2021. In each of those three seasons, the Saints placed fourth, first and second as a team, respectively.

Baftiri’s other 14 NAIA All-American awards came between the 4x800-meter and distance medley relay events as well as the 1,500-meter, 3,000-meter, 5,000-meter and mile races.

Baftiri capped off the trifecta of US Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Midwest Region Athlete of the Year honors this past spring when she gained the outdoor track & field recognition. Earlier in her career, she was honored in indoor track & field (2020) and cross country (2021).

On the conference level, Baftiri was twice named the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Indoor Track Athlete of the Meet at the league championships, captured 12 conference titles (one in cross country, 11 in track) and was a 23-time all-conference performer (three times cc, 20 times track).

The most decorated cross country/track & field athlete in the history of the program, Baftiri holds USF records in the mile, 1,500 meter, distance medley relay, 4x800-meter relay and 5K.

In terms of her academic accomplishments, Baftiri is a five-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete, an eight-time academic all-conference selection and an eight-time Dean’s List recipient. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Education last spring, where she amassed a 3.77 grade point average over her four years. At the master’s level, she turned in a perfect 4.00 grade point average en route to her degree in Teaching & Learning this spring.

Baftiri has also volunteered her time in the America Reads program and as a USF mentor.

Besides being a part of three top four cross country teams, Baftiri helped key seventh- and 11th-place nationals finishes in indoor track & field and a seventh-place effort outdoors during her career.

Baftiri was named USF’s Golden Bone award winner at the 2022 Bernie Awards, which is presented to the top graduating female athlete who has excelled on the playing field throughout her career and has been a part of the USF program her entire collegiate career.

Galloway adds the COSIDA award to her six NAIA All-American honors between cross country (twice) and track & field (four times). She was the top finisher on USF’s national championship cross country team in 2020, placing 13th, while finishing 21st this past fall. In track, the Dwight, Ill. native has gained NAIA All-American distinction in the 5K both indoors and outdoors, 10,000 meters outdoors and the 4x800-meter relay outdoors.

At the CCAC level, Galloway has been a league champion twice, once indoors in the 3,000-meter event and once outdoors as part of the 4x800-meter relay team.

Both a four-time NAIA Scholar-Athlete and CCAC All-Academic pick, Galloway graduated this past May with a 3.86 grade point average and a bachelor’s degree in Radiation Therapy. She is a six-time Dean’s List honoree.

Like Baftiri, Galloway has also been an important cog to USF’s success in track & field at the national level.