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East runner hopes to make PR at District 30-4A cross country meet

By Julie Garcia
Oct. 24, 2013 at 5:24 a.m.
Updated Oct. 25, 2013 at 5:25 a.m.

Erica Barnett, junior at Victoria East, will compete Friday in the District 30-4A Cross Country meet in Beeville.

Erica Barnett thought her high school sports career was over when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament last basketball season.

"The doctors were kind of scared to tell me I had hurt my knee like that because of how I would react to it," Barnett, a Victoria East junior, said. "I actually cried when I heard about it."

Though basketball and volleyball are out of the picture, Barnett was able to keep her athletic hopes alive by joining the cross country team this year.

Barnett, along with her teammates, will travel to Beeville early Friday morning for the District 30-4A Cross Country Meet. Victoria West, Calhoun, Gregory-Portland, Tuloso-Midway, Calallen and Beeville will have teams competing for a spot in regionals as well.

Barnett is no stranger to running. She participated in her first 400-meter sprint at age 6 at the behest of her father.

"At first, I was only a short sprinter - just 100s and 200s and maybe a 400 every once in a while," she said. "Now that I'm running miles every day, I'm comfortable with running 400s, 800s, the longer sprints. That's helped me a lot."

The 16-year-old has had a reputation of a student athlete since seventh grade, when she joined the middle school basketball team.

At an earlier meet in Edna, Barnett requested to run a longer distance with the boys.

"Because district is coming up and we have to run 3 miles (is why I wanted to run with them); at that meet, we were only running 2 miles," she said. "I felt like in order to get ready for district, I should be running 3 miles instead of 2."

Coach Bobby Ramos said that request showed how much Barnett enjoys running.

"She keeps up with most of the boys in our training sessions," Ramos said. "She's definitely not afraid of a challenge."

In his second year coaching at East (football, soccer and cross country), Ramos said this is the first time he's had a full roster of runners.

"It is one of the sports most necessary for discipline," he said. "You're racing against other people, but you're competing with your own potential and the course."

Being the soccer coach, Ramos recruited heavily within that program to find runners.

"It took me pounding the pavement and drumming up interest in the sport," he said. "Last year, we had only four runners on the girls side."

The addition of Barnett has been good not only for points but also for team morale.

"She's a positive and upbeat young lady," he said. "She approaches every workout with genuine care and concern with not only personal performance but her teammates'."

Before every meet, Barnett goes silent.

"The morning of a meet, I'm really quiet - I don't talk to anybody," Barnett said. "I'm quiet and thinking about what I'm going to do and how I'm going to run the course."

Even if listening to music were allowed at district meets, Barnett said she wouldn't partake.

"It gets me off (pace)," she said.

The time Barnett spends in practice pays off, Ramos said.

"The proof is in the pudding," he said. "She is very dedicated; her preparation is unmatched."

Barnett is aiming to beat her personal record in the 3-mile course Friday.

"As long as I beat myself, I feel accomplished," she said.

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