NORMAN — A year ago, Ben Barrett was an up-and-coming cross country runner, no different than most high school sophomores who participate in the sport.
What a difference a year has made.
The Norman North junior finally wrapped up his 2013 season on Saturday by competing in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Calif. It was one of several national meets the junior has competed in since an incredible junior season.
Barrett, who put up several high finishes in cross country and track a year ago, including a surprise 13th-place finish at the state meet, took it to another level in his junior campaign. He attacked an arduous off-season training regimen, putting in the hours and sweat to take his game to the next level. That resulted in a series of victories last season, culminating in a runaway victory at the regional meet and a 10-second victory at the Class 6A state meet.
As Barrett ascended to the top of the sport, there weren’t any surprises for those who had followed his career, including longtime North coach Mike Ramsey.
“He’s going to be one of the best runners to ever come out of this state by the time he’s done,” Ramsey said before Barrett ran away with the state title. “He’s got what it takes to win the next two years.”
After turning in a time of 15:30.76, Barrett may have been the only one surprised by how well he did.
“It doesn’t feel real,” he said after the meet. “This moment here, this is why you run.”
The season didn’t end there for Barrett, and since that meet he’s continued to improve.
On Saturday, that meant a 29th-place finish and a time of 15:56 on a tough course.
“I felt pretty good about the race today,” he said. “It’s been a long season for me in terms of running a lot of races, and the season extending into December is something new for me.”