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Barnett named CCAA Female Scholar-Athlete of Year

Jose Olivar

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Former track and field athlete Kasey Barnett was named Chico State's female athlete of the year, as well as the California Collegiate Athletic Association Female-Scholar Athlete of the Year. Photo credit: Maisee Lee

Former Chico State track and field standout Kasey Barnett proved this summer that athletes can excel not only at sport, but in the classroom as well.

Following her impressive run last season filled with athletic awards and record-breaking performances, Barnett was named Chico State’s Female Athlete of the Year. On top of that, she added the California Collegiate Athletic Association Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year after graduating with a 3.96 GPA.

Jim Morgan, Chico State’s faculty athletic representative, said the award is granted by the California Collegiate Athletic Conference at the end of each school year. Each of the 12 schools in the CCAA nominates one male and one female for the award. The award is then given to a male and female athlete voted on by the 12 faculty athletic representatives from all campuses.

Since its establishment in 1990, Barnett is the first female Wildcat to win the award.

“Kasey assembled a record of academic achievement that was truly superb,” Morgan said. “A cut above all others being considered.”

Barnett graduated this summer, but will not officially get her degree until December when she completes her internship with Pebble Beach Company’s team leader program.

She recently moved to Pacific Grove, Monterey to pursue her career. According to Barnett, she also intends to continue to compete as a runner.

“I’m going to try some distance running, which is tricky because I have always been a sprinter, but I’m going to try a half-marathon next May,” Barnett said.

She plans to run at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in Disneyland, Barnett said.

But while she’s running at the happiest place on earth, her old team is going to miss the leadership that Barnett brought, said Oliver Hanf, the head track and field coach.

“She was a leader not just by her word, but also by her actions,” Hanf said.

Hanf discovered Barnett in high school after seeing her at the Athletic Horizons Gymnastics Facility in Chico, where he was accompanying his daughter for gymnastics.

“I knew who (she) was just from the local newspaper,” Hanf said. “Once I realized that the gymnast was the same track athlete, I didn’t wait long before I asked her to do track.”

After seeing Barnett’s athleticism in the gym and at the track, he knew right away that she could excel as a pole vaulter, Hanf said. Four years later, Hanf’s prediction came true as Barnett went on to win conference in pole vault and long jump, as well as qualifying for nationals in her junior year.

Barnett’s former teammate, Brooke Whitburn, said the women’s team will definitely miss Barnett’s positive attitude.

“I’m definitely going to miss her smile all the time,” she said. “She doesn’t take anything too seriously but she was always focused.”

As for being awarded the Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Barnett credits her ability to balance school and competition.

“Even though athletics are a big focus, I knew all along that schooling was more important because that would take me through life and my professional career,” she said.

While she was rewarded not because of her athletic ability but due to her work as a student, she appreciates the recognition just as much as other awards she has received in the past, Barnett said.

“It was very nice to be recognized as a student athlete, and not just an athlete,” she said. “That was very important that the CCAA and the NCAA are focused on students that are doing well in the classroom.”

Jose Olivar can be reached at [email protected] or @jpu_olivar on Twitter.

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Barnett named CCAA Female Scholar-Athlete of Year