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South Valley Journal

Herriman’s Barnes named coach of the year

Mar 28, 2017 03:28PM ● By Greg James

Herriman track and cross country coach James Barnes has played an important role in his students’ lives. Lucy Biles called him the biggest influence in her life. (Lucy Biles/North Carolina cross country)

By Greg James |  [email protected]

The Utah High School Activities Association recently named Herriman cross country and track and field coach James Barnes 5A coach of the year. His mentorship has impacted students and teams on and off the track.

“He was one of the biggest influences in my life,” Herriman graduate Lucy Biles said. “Even though he was my track coach, I consider him one of my closest friends. He taught me how to push myself—not only to push myself in races, but in other aspects of life as well.”

Barnes coached Biles to three individual state cross country titles. She is now running cross country at the University of North Carolina.

The UHSAA named Barnes the 2016 5A coach of the year, and he received the Distinguished Service Award at a special association luncheon.

“He taught me to look for things I could improve, on and off the track,” Biles said. “He helped me set goals to improve in running and as a person, too.”

Barnes has coached track and cross country for 12 years, the last seven at Herriman High School. He has helped teams win 10 state championships. Several of his runners have gone on to compete on the collegiate level.

In October, Barnes was credited with saving several of his runners’ lives. An out-of-control truck struck one member of the team and narrowly missed several others while they were on a training run.

He constantly teachers his team members to be aware of their surroundings.

“One of the biggest things he taught me was to give it my best all of the time,” former Herriman track athlete Marlee Peterson said. “As long as you work your hardest nothing else matters. Every day I was supposed to compete with myself. I was supposed to become a better version of myself each day. He talked to each of his athletes every day about their goals and how important their work ethic was.”

Peterson is running track at Southern Utah University. She competes in the 200 meters, 400, 800 and 4x400 relay. She is an individual high school state champion and a member of the 4x100 relay current state record-holding team at 47.3 seconds.

“I know he has changed my life and the way I look at running,” Peterson said.

Barnes graduated from Payson High School in 1987 and attended Utah Valley and Utah State universities. He has helped coach his teams to 19 region titles and 10 state titles. He has coached at Provo, Bear River, Riverton and Herriman high schools.

The Mustangs’ track and field team is off and running this season. Its girls team hopes to defend its third straight state title in May at the state high school track and field finals. The team lost several seniors; speedsters Kaysha Love and Dallin Tycksen have graduated. Love holds the state record in the 100.

The Mustangs opened their season March 15. They are scheduled to host Riverton April 5. The region championships are scheduled for May 10–11 at Riverton High School.