Her season had been finished for more than a week. But there was Tana Barrett, practicing at the Newark high jump pit.
The multi-talented Wildcat freshman, who also earned varsity letters in volleyball and basketball, is determined to leave her mark in track: her favorite sport.
She cleared a personal best 5-foot-3 at the Division I regional at Pickerington North, placing fifth and falling just short of the state on misses. For her rapid improvement, and ability to perform at her best in the biggest meets, Barrett is the Advocate’s 2013 Girls Field Event Athlete of the Year.
“I cleared 4-10 in middle school, and I wanted to get to the state this year,” she said. “I changed my steps a couple times, and used different steps to clear 5-3 in the regional. I attempted 5-4, and got the back of it with my calf.”
Barrett also cleared 5-2 to place second in the Ohio Capital Conference-Ohio Division meet, and made 5-1 to finish third in the Division I district meet.
“She’s really worked on her steps,” coach Randy Noftz said. “Once she cleared 5-0 for the first time, she started to get some consistency. She had fun and never buckled at the big meets. She kept climbing because she got more consistent, and did it at the right time.”
Barrett also led off on Newark’s 1,600 relay and took six seconds off her time in the 300 hurdles, improving from 55 seconds to 49 at the OCC-Ohio meet.
She said the track helps her in the other sports, too.
“The high jump helps me with blocking in volleyball, and with rebounding in basketball,” Barrett said.
“She doesn’t specialize, and she likes to do all sports,” Noftz said. “She’s a good athlete and a good listener. She’s not afraid to work hard, and does what she’s told do do.”
Barrett has some lofty goals in the high jump.
“I want to break the school record (5-10),” she said. “I need to do the Vertimax and strengthen my legs. And improve my form. I have a tendency to lean into it instead of going up.”
With a year under her belt, Noftz expects bigger things out of Barrett in 2014.
“She has the grasp of the basics,” he said. “We hope to climb to 5-5, 5-6 or higher.”
Barrett also hopes to stay a step ahead of her twin sister, Takia.
“She does the shot (put) and discus,” Tana said. “There’s a little competition between us.”