Baldwin trio enjoy multi-events at national meet
Carson Barnes wasted no time in earning his first decathlon medal on the national level.
During his first-ever competition at a national meet, the Baldwin High School junior placed high enough to be a medalist. Barnes earned 4,989 points to place seventh in the Intermediate age group at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 1.
“It was a lot of fun,” Barnes said. “The medals are really big. The meet was held at Drake Stadium, where the Drake Relays are held every year. It was a neat environment, which made it a lot of fun.”
Barnes scored 120 more points at the national meet than he did at the previous regional meet. He also improved in the 110-meter hurdles, javelin and pole vault in the final performance.
“I had my ups and downs, but I came out on top overall,” Barnes said.
He began the day by placing 18th out of 36 in the 100-meter dash. Then he finished ninth in long jump, 25th in shot put, 12th in high jump and ninth in the 400-meter dash to complete half of the 10-event decathlon.
In the second half of the competition, Barnes placed eighth in the hurdles, 16th in discus, sixth in pole vault, fifth in javelin and third in the 1,500-meter run to complete the day.
“I felt good about my performance,” Barnes said. “I was happy to be at nationals and do so well in the decathlon. It was very exciting.”
Barnes wasn’t the only local athlete competing in the multi-events in Des Moines. In fact, he wasn’t the only one from his family competing. His younger sister, Kaitlyn Barnes, and her classmate, Monica Howard, also represented Baldwin City at the AAU Junior Olympics.
“We had lots of fun together,” Howard said. “We helped each other during the competition.”
In the girls’ Intermediate heptathlon, Howard finished 10th, while K. Barnes placed 14th out of 32 competitors. Both BHS freshmen scored more in their national performance than they did at the regional meet.
“I wanted to get a medal really bad,” Howard said. “I was close, but I was really happy to place 10th.”
They began the day with the 100-meter hurdles. K. Barnes placed 19th and Howard finished 24th in the event. However, in the long jump, the Frontier-League champion Howard moved up the points list as she placed fifth. K. Barnes finished tied for 18th place.
Both athletes cracked the top 10 in the shot put with Howard ninth and her teammate behind her in 10th. The 200-meter dash wasn’t as successful. Howard finished 21st in the event, while K. Barnes placed 24th.
“I came in about middle of the pack, but I knew I could do better than that,” Howard said. “I was feeling pretty good about myself, but I knew there would be a lot of competition.”
The BHS girls placed 24th and 26th, same order as before, in the long jump. However, event No. 6, the javelin, would boost their points toward the top. Howard finished third in the event, while K. Barnes followed closely behind in seventh.
The final event, 800-meter run, would be K. Barnes’ highest placing in the entire heptathlon. She finished runner-up in the race, losing only by 0.44 of a second. Howard also placed in the top 10 with a ninth-place finish.
Howard set new personal records in every event, except the long jump and high jump, which were her primary events on the Baldwin Junior High School track squad.
“I was really excited and happy,” Howard said. “I improved in all seven of the events from regionals and I set personal records in five of the events. I was really happy about that.”
On Friday, the Barnes siblings returned to Des Moines to compete in the 3,200-meter relay for the Northeast Kansas Track Club. The girls’ team finished fourth and the boys’ squad placed fifth to earn them both medals.
“We went home after the decathlon and came back Friday for the 4x800,” C. Barnes said. “Our team got fifth in that race, so it was really cool getting two national medals. That was my first time I’ve got a national medal.”
All three will be running cross country this fall for BHS. Howard will also be playing volleyball. In cross country, they will be running for one of the coaches that helped them during the summer.
“Mike and Angie Spielman helped us out a lot,” C. Barnes said. “They were really good coaches for us. They went with us to Des Moines and helped coach us there. We couldn't have done it without them.”