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Wildcat of the Year nominee: Kasey Barnett

Lars Gustafson

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Kasey Barnett, former Chico State pole vaulter, during practice in 2014. Orion File Photo

Whether it’s on the track or in the classroom, Wildcat of the Year nominee Kasey Barnett was on top during her senior season.

Now the former pole vaulter has been nominated for the 2014 Orion Sports Wildcat of the Year.

Growing up in Chico, Barnett started her athletic career as a gymnast until her freshman year at Chico High. Barnett started her track and field career as a hurdler and high jumper, but found her stride in a different event.

Kristi Stanley, Chico High track and field coach and Chico State alumna, was one of Barnett’s first coaches. Stanley had Barnett try the long jump during her freshman year of high school and the rest is history. Barnett jumped farther than every long jumper on the junior varsity and varsity teams.

Originally, Barnett wanted to leave Chico to study elsewhere.

She credits Oliver Hanf, Chico State’s head men’s track and field coach, for reaching out to her to join Chico State’s track and field team.

“Oliver told me if I came to do track and field, they would teach me to do pole vaulting and convinced me to come,” Barnett said.

Barnett had a number of successes during the 2014 season.

She said her biggest came with the 400-meter relay team.

“Our 4×100 won the conference meet,” Barnett said. “I loved the fact that the 4×100 team had a team element to it. I loved running with those three girls.Our goal all season was to win the conference meet and we did it. We were the first Chico State women’s team to win the 4×100 at conference.”

In the classroom, Barnett accumulated a 3.96 GPA and graduated with a recreation administration major.

“I’ve always been a really good student,” Barnett said. “School has always been really important and I’ve always been really dedicated to my studies. It’s an honor to be the (California Collegiate Athletic Association) and the Western Region scholar of the year. That was really special to me.”

Ashley Jones was a member of the record-breaking 4×100 team with Barnett, and commented on her teammate’s attitude towards competition.

“Kasey gives 100 percent every single day; she never stops,” Jones said. “I wouldn’t necessarily describe her as a teammate, but as family. On the track team, we say ohana, which means family. She’s a sister to me.”

Jones and Robert Nooney, head coach of the women’s track and field team, said Barnett was one of the leaders of a team with 130 male and female athletes.

“She absolutely was a leader,” Nooney said. “She made a coach’s job very easy. We have 130 athletes on the team and if nine coaches had to motivate 130 people every day, it would be hard. We rely on our upper classmen to take on some leadership roles for the younger athletes.”

Since graduating last spring, Barnett is currently completing an internship at Pebble Beach Resorts. Barnett is learning how to manage multiple aspects of the resort and hopes to get a management position after her internship is over.

Even though Barnett’s track and field career is over, she plans to run a half marathon in May.

“I miss track and field,” Barnett said. “I love it. I’m really satisfied with my accomplishments. The year ended on a good note. Everything as a whole was so positive and I don’t feel the need to go back and compete again.”

During her time as a Wildcat, Barnett collected a long list of accolades and awards.

Awards:

– Four CCAA All-Academic Awards

– Three Division II Athletic Directors’ Association Academic Achievement Awards

– Named twice to the CoSIDA/Capital One All-District and United States Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association All-Academic teams

– CoSIDA/Capital One Academic All-American

– 2014 CCAA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year

– 2014 Western Region Field Athlete of the Year

– 2014 All-CCAA, All-West Region honors and All-American in the long jump

Chico State Records:

– Pole Vault: 13 feet, 1 inch

– 4×100: 46.50 seconds

Lars Gustafson can be reached at @[email protected] or @larsonsports on Twitter.

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Wildcat of the Year nominee: Kasey Barnett