Kaneland junior Ben Barnes advanced from Friday’s preliminaries to today’s Class 2A boys track and field state finals at Eastern Illinois. He’ll compete in the long jump and as part of the Knights’ 4x200-meter relay as the team looks to challenge three-time defending champion Cahokia for a spot atop the podium. Barnes, who also was in the triple jump prelims, discussed his conditioning as part of this week’s Weekend Chit-chat with Shaw Media sports reporter Kevin Druley. He also addressed the team’s confidence and outlook for the finals. Here’s an edited transcript:
Busy day for you. What do you take away from it?
Didn’t do my best in triple, but long, I just feel like I can go farther even though finals worked out. … I’ve just got to focus on 4x2 tomorrow and long jump.
You guys are so well-conditioned and used to multiple events, but what’s the key to maintaining everything?
Just staying focused for your next event. Don’t let anything get you down if you still have more events. Your team’s always there for you. Pretty much just not sitting around on your butt all day and always be warmed up.
How did you get into jumping?
I don’t know. It was just in middle school, they just had anyone do anything. And I thought I might as well try long jump, because I like to jump and I don’t like [running] long distance. So I assumed that I’d try long jump and my speed helped a lot because I’m fast on the runway.
Were you born and raised going to Kaneland schools?
I was born and raised in Kaneland. It’s a great foundation, great to grow up in.
Obviously, you guys are very confident and wanting to go after Cahokia, but how much have you talked about that as a team?
We talk about it a lot, that the … biggest thing for us to get up there is the support from everyone. Even if they’re alternates, just coming out and cheering us on, giving us that extra push just to go faster and getting focused and prepared. Going to bed early, eating right and just getting our minds set on we could do something amazing down here.
With as many teammates as you have down here, does that give this a home-away-from home setting?
Yeah, it’s good to see that we have a lot of people, because no one likes being alone. … So it’s nice to see your teammates everywhere, running around just to support everyone. Whether it’s pole vault running from the other side to the finish line for our races, it’s just great to see our team all come together.
You played basketball and golf before track. Any overlap with skills there?
Basketball gets me ready to condition for track. … I just started [golf]. I’ve been playing a lot. … I was playing when I was younger, but not on a team or anything, just for fun. And then I’m not playing football anymore, so I might as well do something in the fall to keep me busy. It’s just a fun sport, it’s a good hobby to pick up.