At the end of each competition in 2015, all Brownstown Central’s Joe Barnes wanted was to hear his name called over the loudspeaker.
Barnes, a sophomore at the time, consistently launched the longest throws in the shot put ring at meets — but his scores never counted.
While Barnes’ scores would have won by as much as 10 feet, his throws only counted as junior varsity due to ineligibility since he transferred to Brownstown from Medora.
Now, the junior plans on making up for lost time, and he has made a statement to the state.
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At a recent open competition at Indiana University’s indoor track and field facility hosted by Bloomington North, Barnes finished first against athletes from schools of all sizes.
In the finals, Barnes threw a personal-best 49-11½ to top the field.
“This was my first competition since May 22 of my freshman year,” Barnes said. “I was flagged last year for moving from Medora to Brownstown. I used to be able to throw in practice, and every meet last year but my scores didn’t count.
“(Competing again) is the greatest feeling of my life. I worked hard last year and it’s paying off. Now, I can take home a ribbon every time.”
While the throws at IU started off the week, Barnes picked himself up to make it to the finals.
“I had a lot of family members supporting me,” Barnes said. “My first throw was 42 (feet), and that was horrible for me. I had never thrown against guys from Avon and West Lafayette. I knew they were big. It was a great environment.”
While he looks forward to earning some blue ribbons this season, Barnes said he is hoping his scores help his team score more points.
“I can’t wait to meet with the people I threw against last year,” Barnes said. “I didn’t know what to tell them when they asked why I wasn’t throwing. I never got to hear my name, and I (would have) won 13 track meets last year. It takes a little bit out of you every single time. If I were to have gotten first in a couple events, we could have gotten more points.”
The junior started throwing because his grandfather holds the school record at Medora, and the sport fitted his athletic abilities.
He said he started learning how to throw by watching YouTube videos.
Barnes has worked with high-pedigree coaches. Former state champion and USA Olympics trainee Eric Werskey of Seymour and former Seymour throwing coach Jeremy Lambrecht have helped him hone his craft.
“My eighth grade year, I went to my doctor, and she knew Eric’s parents,” Barnes said. “(Werskey) was in town from throwing in California. I worked with him and (Lambrecht), who coached him at Seymour.
“I worked with Eric and Jeremy, and then worked with Jeremy about 10 more times over the summer. Everything I know is from trial and error, and from Jeremy and Eric.”
Now, Barnes is coached by Brownstown’s throwing head coach Jerry Brown.
Barnes said that Brown takes video during competition, and helps him make corrections.
“(Barnes) works hard, and (throwing) is all he wants to do,” Brown said. “He’s driven. We know he’s solid now, but we can get him a lot better. You have to have goals to continue improving.
“He’s a technician. He is always challenging the guys. When you carry a conversation with him, he can generally tell you what he needs to work on.”
Barnes also plans on throwing discus this season, and said his personal best is 145 feet.
The bigger focus for Barnes, however, remain with the shot put.
“By the middle to end, toward sectional, I want to break the shot put record of 56-1,” Barnes said.