Jumping has always come easily for Fairmont senior Justin Barnes. While track might not have been Barnes' original first choice, his athletic ability has enabled him to reach new heights in track & field for the Cardinals.
"I played baseball when I was growing up, all the way to seventh grade. Then when I broke my arm, my mom said I should do track," said Barnes. "I really liked it and I didn't go back to baseball."
This year, not only is Barnes focused on his jumps, but he also is expanding his range of events. With a full slate of events at every meet, Barnes always looks forward to the jumping events.
LEAPS?AND?BOUNDS — Fairmont senior Justin Barnes finishes off a long jump attempt during a triangular meet at Cardinal Track on April 16. Barnes has helped lead the Cardinals during two indoor and three outdoor meets, including setting one honor-roll performance in the high jump. Photo by Leanna Becker
"I think that jumping has always come easy to me," said Barnes. "I never really had to think too much about the jumping part of it, I've just always been able to do it."
While the jumping ability may have came naturally, it took years of practice for Barnes to reach higher and further distances.
"All through my eighth-grade year I could jump 5 feet, 1 inch no problem, but I couldn't go any higher," said Barnes. "But between my eighth-grade year and freshman year something must have happened because then I was able to jump 5-6 and 5-8 the next year."
Despite battling the challenging weather, Barnes already has set a new personal-best mark in his favorite event this season.
In the opening outdoor meet - a triangular against Martin County West and St. Peter, Barnes leaped 6-2 for a first-place honor-roll performance.
"I try not to think too much before going into a jump. When I do that, I usually over-analyze everything," said Barnes. "That day I felt really good and when I cleared 6 feet, it was just awesome. Then they moved the bar up and I made that too. It was great."
This year's success is a continuation from last year that included a second-place finish in last year's South Central Conference Meet to the eventual Class A state champion Yves Spies from Waseca.
Along with the success in the high jump, Barnes also has been a major contributor for the Cardinals, usually particpating in four events each meet.
"I think that participating in a lot of events has really helped me. I've done it almost every year, and I think it keeps me from getting too nervous or over-thinking any events," said Barnes.
Another specialty for Barnes is the hurdles, where he runs both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300-meter low hurdles.
"I think that the 110s are all about rhythm when you run them. Once you find the rhythm, you can do really well," said Barnes. "And the 300s are a hard race, but I enjoy them."
Barnes' time of 17.97 seconds in the high hurdles during the 2012 Section 2A, Sub-Section 6 Meet, along with his 5-10 high jump, gave him a pair of spots in the section meet. Unfortunately, he was unable to reach the state meet.
This year, his skill set has expanded, with the senior getting the chance to jump in both the long and triple jumps in different meets.
"I think sometimes coach just puts us in events to see if we'll do well at them," said Barnes. "I've jumped the long jump before and have done that once in a while, but now I've started doing triple jump this season, too."
With all the individual success, Barnes' focus remains on the team's success first.
"I want to do whatever I need to, to help the team," said Barnes. "I think it would really be great if we could make it to the True Team State meet. We lost a lot of points from last year, but I think we have a good thing going, and the younger guys don't even know how talented they are."