Barringer Wins Big 12 Mile, Shattering Records and Barriers

posted by Pretty Tough
Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 1:02pm EST

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Photo by Kirby Lee: Sally Kipyego and Jenny Barringer go 1-2 at the 2007 NCAA Cross-Country Championships

Jenny Barringer, University of Colorado junior, won her first indoor Big 12 Conference title yesterday, and she won it in style. Not only did it earn her team ten points, but it marked the first time EVER that she beat Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego, one of the best distance runners the NCAA has ever seen. Both runners had to break the current NCAA record and run faster than anyone in the world has yet this season in order to go after the win in the Mile, but only one runner could come away with the title, and this time, it was Barringer. Barringer pointed out the high level of competition in the Big 12 after the race.

            “A Big 12 title is such a big deal to me,” Jenny Barringer explaine. “I think it is such a tribute to the Big 12 that I am an Olympian and I only have two titles. This is a very special and very treasured thing that I have achieved.”

Many Olympians have come out of the Big 12 Conference. Olympic gold medalists Jeremy Wariner and Sanya Richards used to thrill the Big 12 crowd with world-leading times every season. And a woman like Barringer, a 2008 Olympian in the 3000m Steeplechase and current American Record holder in the event, had yet to win an indoor Big 12 title until yesterday.

            Barringer’s winning time of 4 minutes, 25.91 seconds, in addition to being the best in the world this year and a collegiate record, was also a Big 12 record, Gilliam Track & Field Stadium and University of Colorado record. The former collegiate best mark was 4:28.31, run by Vicki Huber (Villanova) on Feb. 5, 1988.

Her coach Mark Wetmore sounded like am coach who had planned this race with his athlete and fully believed in her capabilities to do what she did; he was not surprised at her performance, just very proud.

            “She ran those splits for a reason today,” CU head coach Mark Wetmore said. “The fact that Sally was in the race complicated it some because Sally is a formidable opponent and Jenny had never beaten her before. But she executed the plan excellently and it was a beautiful race in the literal sense of the word. So many people came up to me afterwards, seasoned people who have seen a lot of track meets, and said just that. We are thrilled with it and she will enjoy it for another day before we get back to work.”

The race is another testament to Barringer’s excellent mental approach to competition. She is known for her ability to peak at the perfect times in the season and for coming back from a mediocre race to perform better than ever at her next, quelling any doubt that she may be “done for the season” or “at her limit”. In listening to her post-race interviews, one cannot help but notice her calculated approach to training and racing, keeping any excitement or disappointment about her performance separate from her objective analysis of the race, including it’s splits, the competitors, the weather, where she is in her current phase of training, and how her body is feeling.

It is obvious that this objective view of training and competition fits well with Wetmore’s program. The coach is known for keeping his athletes out of early-season races, allowing them to train uninterrupted until they perform in the meets that really count. On Saturday, Barringer had been entered in the 3000m as well, which would have taken place just hours after the mile. Despite the excitement about her proven fitness level, Wetmore scratched her from the second race.

            “Obviously she would have done well in there and either she or Sally would have won the race, which would have been eight or 10 more points for the team,” Wetmore said. “But she is right at the end of a case of bronchitis which has been a season killer for her in the past. Coach (Heather) Burroughs and I took a deep breath and said that we need to get her 100% healthy for NCAAs. She has a long way to go and may have nine or 10 more months to go.”

Sounds like one of the world’s best distance runners is in good hands.

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