Virus pandemic halts ISU thrower’s outdoor season


Joseph Barnes missed his sophomore track and field season in high school and college for different reasons.

He was ineligible to compete after transferring from Medora to Brownstown Central in high school, and he suffered a stress fracture to his right fifth lumbar vertebrate during the beginning of his indoor season at Indiana State University.

He said the injury developed over time, and he was in a solid back brace for two months with little to no physical activity and daily rehabilitation. He then transitioned to a flexible back brace, which he still has to wear, and slowly began being able to throw and lift with some restrictions.

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Barnes recently started practicing fully with some minor restrictions to be ready for the outdoor season. He still had physical therapy twice a week and was working with athletic trainers three times a week.

Earlier this month, though, all of that came to a halt.

This time, it wasn’t because of a transfer or an injury. It was out of Barnes’ control.

ISU, in conjunction with the Missouri Valley Conference, announced March 13 that it has canceled all intercollegiate competitions, including MVC championships, through the end of the 2019-20 academic year in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The day before, the NCAA announced the cancellation of its 2020 winter and spring championships.

“Unfortunately, I found out on social media that our season had been canceled, and then was given details about this by our head coach the following day,” Barnes said.

“I was definitely shocked, but seeing all the other schools cancel their season before ours prepared me,” he said. “It’s difficult knowing that I have bounced back from an injury and am now in a good place to throw far, but I am unable to show everyone my progress. Luckily, I was able to compete in this year’s indoor season and threw personal bests in both events.”

Barnes competes in the weight throw and shot put during indoor season and the hammer, discus and shot put in the outdoor season.

“My expectations for this year were to place at the conference level, PR in every event and possibly make the East Regional in the discus,” he said.

Team-wise, he said ISU was going to be very young, but he expected the Sycamores to be a contender for the conference championship.

“For the group of throwers, I expected us to place in every throwing event at conference,” Barnes said.

For now, he said he’s still living in Terre Haute with other members of the track and field team off campus and working full time at Fuson Automotive.

He also is focusing on staying active and working on his overall fitness.

“I will be throwing and training six days a week,” he said. “I will be lifting at Dedicated Health gym in Terre Haute and throwing at the ring on campus. I want to work on continuing to improve my technique while staying focused for the next season.”

With his studies, Barnes and the rest of the ISU students are taking classes online for the remainder of the semester. He has five classes.

“I have had to adjust to online classes, and so far, they have gone well,” said Barnes, a physical education major. “Unfortunately, I was in the middle of my student teaching, so we had to end that early. I was able to get some much-needed experience in my field.”

Barnes is a junior academically and a sophomore athletically. The NCAA Division I Council announced eligibility relief is available for student-athletes who participate in spring sports with details to be finalized at a later time.

“As of right now, our coaches have not confirmed with us that the NCAA will offer an extra year of eligibility,” he said. “In my current situation, I am on track to graduate in four years.”

Assuming the indoor season is a go later this year, Barnes said he looks forward to showing people the progress he has made.

“Although this is an extreme disappointment, I have learned from past experiences to stay focused on the things that I can control,” he said. “This feels a lot like last year in many ways, and I feel as though I have even more to prove given my senior year will be my last year.”

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