Joseph Barnes prefers the underdog role — it pushes him to be the best version of himself.
Barnes went from not hearing his name announced at dual meets his sophomore year to being called to the podium at state in 2017.
Being forced to sit out after transferring from Medora to Brownstown Central two years ago, Barnes used the situation to motivate himself.
Overcoming any odds, Barnes dominated his final two years while repping the Braves — which led to an offer to compete at Indiana State University.
Hours of hard work culminated into a third place finish in the shot put at state.
“It was probably one of the best feeling of my life,” Barnes said. “The amount of people for that event is outstanding. There are so many athletes and fans. It was a great experience and am so happy I got to represent Brownstown. I wouldn’t have wanted to wear any other jersey that day.”
For all of his accomplishments this past season, The Tribune has named Barnes the Jackson County boys’ track and field athlete of the year for the second straight year.
Making it to state in the discus and shot his junior year, Barnes set his expectations higher in his last high school season.
In the regular season, Barnes didn’t lose a meet in the throwing events.
The Mid-Southern Conference champion set school records in both the discus (170 feet, 2 inches), shot put (57-10), and was primed to make a strong push in the postseason.
“My goals were to be a 171 (feet) discus thrower and 57 shot put thrower,” Barnes said. “Doing both those things would probably put me in the top-10 at state in both events. I wanted to get the shot put record — that was a big goal this year. The discus, it just took off. I would have never planned on it to go as well as it did. Compared to my junior year, I think I stepped up. I didn’t let the flame out.”
Despite battling an ankle injury, Barnes went on to win both events in the Bedford North Lawrence Sectional to advance to the Bloomington North Regional.
Despite a disappointing — by his standards — outing in the discus (finishing seventh) — Barnes bounced back to finish runner-up in the shot.
Coming into the state meet at Indiana University, Barnes was the ninth seed at 53-7.
He shocked the field, tossing 56-3 1/2 for the third place medal.
“I had a great day at state,” Barnes said. “It was unfortunate for a lot of my competitors, but last year I had a really bad day. This year, the second through fourth seeds had bad days. I kept calm this year and went into it with a completely different mindset. I just wanted to have fun. I was only guaranteed three throws, and I approached it that way.”
Right after stepping off the podium, Barnes was approached with an offer to throw at the MidWest Meet of Champions.
The meet, which was recently held at Ohio Wesleyan University, featured the top senior track and field athletes from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
While it didn’t count as the school record since the IHSAA season was over, Barnes threw a personal best 58-8 ¼ inches to finish fourth.
“It was a great feeling,” Barnes said. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drive four hours to throw and get beat by everyone. All of the guys there were Division I athletes. I got some practice in the night before and everything started clicking. I just had a great day, I threw almost a foot PR.”
Barnes said that he met eight other athletes at the meet, across multiple events, who also will be attending ISU.
This summer, Barnes is practicing and lifting three times per week in preparation for college.
He said that he will move in to ISU in August to start working with the team.
“It’s a different mindset coming out here and practicing,” Barnes said. “I’m climbing up the ladder again and I like that. I’ve always liked being the underdog. Being the underdog is the best place to be.”
Barnes said that he will never forget the coaches and fans that made his dreams possible.
“(BC throwing coach) Jerry Brown is a very good friend. I love the man,” he said. “He’s like a father to me and I would do anything for him. I’m just so happy that Brownstown and all of the coaches welcomed me in. I couldn’t be happier with my community and my town.”
Joseph Barnes, Brownstown Central, senior
Accolades: 3rd place at IHSAA state finals (shot put), sectional champion (discus, shot) and regional qualifier, Mid-Southern Conference Champion (discus, shot), 4th place at MidWest Meet of Champions (shot), BCHS MVP.
School records: discus (170-2), shot put (57-10)
Joining Barnes on the 2017 All-Jackson County boys’ track and field team:
Colton Ritz, Brownstown Central, junior, pole vault
Accomplishments: Placed 20th at the state meet, sectional champion and regional qualifier, set school record at 14-3 (at sectional), BCHS most outstanding field event.
Jacob Bollinger, Brownstown Central, senior, pole vault
Accomplishments: runner-up at sectional, regional qualifier.
Reece Covert, Brownstown Central, junior, sprinter
Accomplishments: regional qualifier in 400, BCHS most outstanding sprinter.
Cameron Lee, Brownstown Central, senior, distance
Accomplishments: BCHS most outstanding distance runner.
Noah Hoskins, Crothersville, junior, throwing/sprints
Accomplishments: SAC champion in shot put, CHS MVP, CHS most improved.
Seth Ragon, Seymour, senior, high jump
Accomplishments: Placed 15th at state, regional qualifier, three-time state qualifier over career.
Jake Vance, Seymour, senior, multiple events
Accomplishments: regional qualifier in pole vault, 300 hurdles, 4×100 sectional champion, SHS MVP.
Gavin Blanton, Seymour, senior, relays/sprints
Accomplishments: sectional champion in 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
Jacob Voss, Seymour, junior, distance
Accomplishments: regional qualifier in 1,600 and 3,200.
Hunter Bauserman, Seymour, senior, distance
Accomplishments: Academic All-State, regional qualifier in 1,600.
Luke Champ, Seymour, sophomore, sprints
Accomplishments: 4×400 relay sectional champion, also a regional qualifier in 400.
AJ Goecker, Trinity Lutheran, sophomore, distance
Accomplishments: sectional champion in the 3,200 and regional qualifier, school record in 3,200 (9:55.52), TLHS MVP.
Matt McKay, Trinity Lutheran, senior, hurdles
Accomplishments: sectional champion in the 110 hurdles, school record in 110 hurdles (15.56).