Jenny Barringer has been a star cross country and track runner at the University of Colorado since 2005, but the upcoming NCAA Cross Country Championships will be her last race as a Buffalo.
This may seem like it would be an emotional race for Barringer, but she has a different outlook on the championships on Monday.
“I’m not sad, I’m really excited,” Barringer said. “I think the future has all good things and I’m excited about the opportunity to really be myself and finish what I started.”
Barringer has had much success at CU and is currently at a national class at 800 meters and a world class from 1,500-5,000 meters, said Mark Wetmore, the CU cross country and track head coach.
Wetmore said a runner as versatile as Barringer is very special.
“She may be someone who never needs to specialize,” Wetmore said. “I guess that’s the fantasy; we can do things well enough together than she can be world class at lots of different events and have fun racing over a variety of distances.”
Barringer competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China where she placed ninth overall in the women’s steeplechase, another event she dominates.
“The Olympics was fun and exciting, but a very stressful and innervating experience,” Barringer said.
Even after this great accomplishment, Barringer decided to return and run as a Buffalo for one last year. However, she decided to redshirt the 2008 cross country season to recuperate from the Olympics.
“I think Mark was really wise in suggesting that I take the season off and then we made that decision [to redshirt] together,” Barringer said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Many people have wondered why she would come back to CU after competing in the Olympics.
Barringer said CU had the best coaches and she wanted to win a championship.
“I really wanted to follow through with the women on the team and I really wanted to follow through with my desire to win a cross country championship,” Barringer said. “And I feel like Boulder is the best place for me to be to trained, and Mark [Wetmore] and Heather [Burroughs] are the best coaches for me. So the decision for me was very easy.”
It appears the cross country team didn’t mind her return either as Barringer has finished in first place in every major meet this season.
Still, no matter how many awards and honors she has received throughout her college career, Barringer is not aspiring to become a “legacy” at the University of Colorado. She is just focusing on the championships.
“I am one of five women hopefully that will score on Monday,” Barringer said. “That’s an important job and it’s a position that I have a lot of respect for. I hope that I am a better teammate now than some big, awesome legacy. I really hope that that’s what is resonating with the women and that I can be one of five on Monday.”
Wetmore said he wants Barringer to just focus on the championships as well.
“She could be thinking about legacy, she could be thinking about professional contracts, she could be thinking about a Tesla [Roadster], but she’s been hearing from me, and hearing from Heather Burroughs and hearing from herself, ‘Stay on task,’” Wetmore said. “Stay on this thing that’s coming on Monday; this is a really cool thing if we can do it, so let’s focus on that. Legacies and Teslas are for Tuesday.”
All the awards and honors Barringer has received at CU are the products of a special relationship between her and Wetmore, which they both cherish deeply.
“It is a great comfort to a coach to win the lottery of an athlete who just says, ‘How far, how much, how fast, how soon,’” Wetmore said. “Either by nature or by nurture, she turned out to be a dream to coach.”
Barringer said she values Wetmore as a coach as well.
“I think the rapport that we have with each other as coach and athlete is something that is never easily found and nearly impossible to ever replace, so I value that with him,” Barringer said.
Nevertheless, one question still remains: Where will Jenny Barringer go from here?
“My No. 1 priority is to stay in Boulder and I’ve made that very clear with all the people that I’ve met with and the people that I’ve spoken to,” Barringer said. “I have established relationships here with women on the team and I have a fiancé here who has a career of his own, so there are a lot of things that are really pointing me here towards staying in Boulder and making that is a top priority for me.”
Clearly, this won’t be the last we see of Barringer, and there is her professional career to look forward to.
“I think I have a lot of bright spots out there for me in the future,” Barringer said.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kayla Cornett at Kayla.firstname.lastname@example.org.