Photo by Michael Kinney
By Michael Kinney
Bennett Barnett wants to leave his mark. The Mount Saint Mary senior distance runner wants to make sure when his time is up his name will be etched in the record books.
In order to do that, Barnett knows he has to do something special. For him, that means breaking a record that has stood since 2014.
"My main goal is to break the 3A state record in the 3200, which is 9:36.37 for 3A," Barnett said. "That's my main goal. So I have a little bit more to get down, but I think I can do it."
The 3A record is currently held by Colton Green of Henryetta. He set it at the 2014 State track and Field Championships.
Barnett's top time this year is 9:54. He set it April 19 at the Piedmont Invitational. But he thinks he could have done even better.
"I think I went out a little too hard. I think I went out in about a 68, which is definitely a little too fast," Barnett said. "I could've run it a little smarter, a little even with the laps, and I think maybe done a little bit better. But I'm pretty happy. This is my first win of the year. My first time breaking 10:00 in outdoor. And yeah, I'm just happy to go away with a win."
Yet, Barnett is still a few seconds off his personal best.
"It's my second best time. I ran 9:51 at the Pittsburgh State meet," Barnett said. "It was an indoor race. And I didn't come out with a win on that one. I got pulled to a pretty fast time, and I was happy with that, too."
No other runner in class 3A has gotten below 10 minutes this season. The second best time belongs to Marietta's Preston Whisenhunt at 10:04.
While Barnett is still just over 18 seconds away from breaking the state record, he is confident it can be done if the conditions are right.
"It's just going to take a good day, a little wind, good race, couple guys around me," Barnett said. "And just a lot of guts."
Mount Saint Mary's track coach, Frezer Legesse, agrees.
"It's going to take conditions first, because we've done everything that we can from a training aspect, and he's there with it. It's just conditions," Legesse said. "And then obviously today's race (Piedmont), he led from the gun. So just kind of having a little competition in there and being able to kind of have someone help out in the front. I think those are the kind of things that it will take. But I think he's definitely there for it."
Legesse is in his first full year as the MSM head coach. The former University of Oklahoma runner and Under Armour sponsor already has a state cross country championship under his belt from last fall
Barnett led Mount Saint Mary to the cross country championship after finishing third overall in the race for the individual title.
Now, Barnett wants to end his career with another state championship and a record.
"I think going into state, I think fitness-wise he's there about sub 9:40, in the 9:30s," Legesse said. "But of course, we're in Oklahoma, and we've been facing a lot of tough wind and just tough conditions with a lot of the stuff that's going on outside of track and field. So it's been hard to kind of get those races in. But I think going forward, I think his fitness is there. He's just got to be able ... if everything comes together, I think he's definitely in the 9:30s shape for sure."