The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

May 9, 2012

Haley Barker defends Oklahoma state sprint title

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Haley Barker is still the defending Class 2 state champion in the girls 100 meters.

In a season full of challenges — the most intense came from her younger sister — Barker captured her second championship Saturday at Carl Albert High School in Oklahoma City.

She was the top qualifier in the prelims with a time of 12.67 seconds, then came from behind and won the final in 12.66.

“I didn’t get out very good like I did in the prelims,” Barker said. “I was pretty far back there, then I did what I usually do, win the race in the last 20 to 30 meters.”

She will compete in the Meet of Champions on Tuesday at Moore High School near Oklahoma City. The top two finishers in each class at the state meet get automatic bids, then runners statewide with the next four fastest times complete the 16-member field.

Barker, a junior, ran only in the 4x100 at the Meet of Champions last year. “I was nervous about getting out of the blocks because I had a pulled quad, so I chose not to run the 100,” she said.

“I ran 12.88 last year, 12.66 this year, so I hope I run a 12.44 or faster next year,” she said. “I was only four one-hundredths of a second off the school record, so I’m looking forward to going to the Meet of Champions. I’ve been working really hard this week.”

Barker said she does not work out as a sprinter year-round. “I wish we had a winter track, but we don’t,” she said. Instead, she was a cheerleader and played on the basketball team last season.

Her usual come-from-behind strategy in the 100 meters didn’t always work this spring. She placed second at five meets in a row behind her younger sister, Hannah, a freshman at Commerce.

“I didn’t run the 200 at regionals because I was in a lot of pain, but I didn’t know what it was,” said Hannah, who was slowed by a slight stress fracture in her foot just before the regional meet. “I wanted to run the relays at state because I didn’t want to let them down.”

Commerce was third in the 4x100 relay with a season-best time of 50.77 seconds. Delaney Ballard ran the first leg, followed by Hannah Barker, Drew Greenwood and Haley Barker.

“Our second leg, the younger Barker sister was running hurt,” said girls head coach Jake Sharp. “She’s in a boot now. She had been running with a stress fracture for a couple of weeks.”

Greenwood, a sophomore, missed the middle part of the season with an injury and was temporarily replaced by Ashley Bigeagle. “She finally got healthy, we had a runoff and she got her spot back,” Sharp said.

Commerce was fourth in the 4x200 relay in 1 minute, 50.80 seconds with a team of Ballard, Hannah Barker, Bigeagle and Haley Barker.

Haley Barker was fourth in the 200 with a time of 26.73 seconds that broke the school record by one one-hundredth of a second. Hannah Barker was sixth in the 100.

“A sixth-place medal feels pretty good now that I have it,” said Hannah Barker. “It’s upsetting because I beat her all year. I can say I beat the state champion five times this year. But we’re sisters, so we’re close.

“Maybe next year we’ll stand 1-2 at state,” she said. “Who knows how it will go, but that would be fun.”

Other state medalists in Class 2 included Tre Riggs of Commerce, who was second in the boys 400, fourth in the 200 and fifth in the 100; K.C. Jones of Fairland, who was fifth in the 110 hurdles; and Ashlynn Brechisan of Wyandotte, who was fourth in the girls shot put.