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Friday, May 6, 2016

Fancy Feet: Don and Mae Berry share in granddaughter's running success

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don and Mae Berry, Storm Lake, have five grandchildren that they are equally very proud of.

The sun is shining a little brighter right now, Mae, said, on granddaughter Jenny, who has made her mark in the world of racing.

Jenny Barringer, daughter of Bruce and Janet Barringer, accumulated scores of records through high school (Florida), including five Florida High School track titles and three cross country championships and in college (University of Colorado) including numerous Midwest Region, Big 12 and NCAA awards and the recognition continues, quite deservingly.

She earned a spot to compete in the Junior World Championships in Belgium as a junior in high school, competed in the World Championships in France as a senior and took part in the World Championships in Japan in 2007.

Barringer qualified to represent the United States at the Olympics in Beijing last year (competing in the first ever women's steeplechase event) where she earned ninth place with a 9:12:50 time (an American record) and recently returned from competing in Berlin in the World Championships where she shattered her Olympic record in the steeplechase with her 9:22:26 race, placing fifth.

It is her intention to sign a professional running contract as soon as she completes her college education, majoring in political science and economics, in the next few months and is hopeful of making her second trip to the Olympics in 2012.

Barringer, 23, has commented, "My legs and feet have taken me all over the world."

What an amazing trek it has been.

Iowa can claim her as one of theirs; she was born in Webster City and attended school for a short time at Ames. The family moved to Missouri and eventually Florida.

It was Barringer's middle school coach that recognized the talent she had on the track; he encouraged her parents to take her to every road race they could find and above all to let her be a kid and let her enjoy her childhood.

"She just has always had a joy for running," Mae said. "She has always referred to it as a 'God-given talent.'"

The steeplechase event that she now competes in has been confused by some as an equestrian event.

The steeplechase run uses no horses but instead combines several different skills into one event, including distance running, hurdling and long jumping. The 3000-meter event includes 28 hurdle jumps and seven water jumps. The jumps begin after the runners pass the finish line for the first time. There are five jumps in each of the final seven laps, with the water jump as the fourth. The jumps are evenly distributed throughout the track. Each runner must go over or through the water pit and must jump each hurdle. The hurdles are .914 meters high for men's events and .762 meters high for the women's steeplechase. The hurdles are solid and cannot be knocked over, but the tops are five inches long so hurdlers can step on them, if necessary. The hurdle at the water jump is 3.66 meters wide while the remaining hurdles are at least 3.94 meters wide, so more than one runner can clear a hurdle at the same time.

The water pits are 3.66 meters long with a maximum water depth of 70 centimeters. The pit slopes upward so the water depth recedes at the farther end of the pit.

The event is quite exciting to witness.

Barringer hasn't always been involved in the steeplechase event but was introduced to it in college. The first time running the steeplechase was in 2006, at a race in California. It was one of the few events that Don and Mae did not attend as they were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary with their two children and their spouses on a cruise through Alaska. They received full details about the race while afloat.

The Berrys have enjoyed watching their granddaughter run. They made the long trip to Belgium and were in Eugene, Ore. when she qualified for the Olympics. They would have loved to have been in Beijing but were able to get many glimpses of Jenny during the opening ceremonies, her actual race and the closing ceremonies. They have been able to tune in other big races, having front row seats, at their computers.

Grandpa Don said he knows his granddaughter's techniques and while she sometimes appears to be running out of steam, "she takes off like a freight train past a tramp", and ends up back in the lead.

Grandma Mae describes her granddaughter's cordialness following a race.

"She's so gracious to the other runners. She always turns to congratulate them."

Mae also pointed out that while her granddaughter is a runner, she is also an excellent student. She is active in her church and works with a relocations group to help families who are victims of political unrest to transition to new homes in the U.S. Jenny recently became engaged, another exciting moment in her life.

Faith, said Mae, has always been an important part of Jenny's life and in the lives of her family members. Mae commented that Jenny's second set of grandparents, Bob and Delores Barringer, Spencer, have also been great supporters of their granddaughter. Mae and Delores can spend hours talking about Jenny and her accomplishments. "We're her grandmas so we can brag about her to each other. Other people may get tired of us talking about her. Delores and I pray for Jenny, that she'll be safe during her travels and have no injuries but we don't pray for her to win - only that she does her best. We both thank our church families for supporting her."

The Berrys will be busy over the next few months as they will be present to watch Jenny complete her college running career. The final home meet is in early October, pre-nationals is mid-October in Terra Haute, Ind, the Big 12 meet is the end of October in Missouri, regionals are in Salt Lake mid-November and nationals are the end of November in Terra Haute.

Barringer shared in her blog while on her last day in Berlin, "This season behind me is one to savor. Those who know the sport or know me are aware of the leaps I have taken and the pride with which I will be returning to the States tomorrow. The road from Beijing to Berlin has been long but I'm sad it's already over. I'm still learning, I'm still practicing, I'm still finding more within myself. The best is yet to come, I know that for sure, but I also know that while I still feel the vibrations of the final note to my song this year, no other future music will be quite the same."

Mae concluded, "It will be a busy fall but if it's within driving distance, we're there for her. This is her last year in college, the end of a chapter. Goodness knows where she'll go from there."