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Bruce McBarnette

Nailing the approach McBarnette gets steps right to set high-jump record

USATF Masters Outdoor Championships:

Nailing the approach McBarnette gets steps right to set high-jump record


Brant Wilkerson-New/Winston-Salem Journal

With two failed attempts behind, Bruce McBarnette sat in the infield Saturday adjusting the bandage on his left hamstring, thinking about each of the 12 steps between him and the chance to set an American age-group record in the high jump.

For McBarnette, a 56-year-old lawyer from Sterling, Va., each step leading up to take-off is choreographed. On his first attempt at Wake Forest’s Kentner Stadium, he jumped too late. On his second, he jumped too early and crashed into the front of the bar.

On his third attempt, he got his seventh step just right and cleared the bar to set the record in the men’s 50s division, clearing 1.84 meters at USA Track and Field’s Masters Outdoor Championships.

“I started in a more gradual turn on step number seven, and that resulted in me coming in at a little bit sharper angle to the bar than I did in my previous jump, when I was running closer to parallel to the bar,” McBarnette said.

After nailing the seventh step, McBarnette made a perfect turn and glided over the bar with ease, drawing a huge cheer from friends and other competitors surrounding the landing mat. Some encouraged him to continue, but McBarnette called it a day, citing the bulky white bandage protecting his pulled hamstring.

Vicki Fox (345) performs in the W55 Long Jump during the 3rd day of the USA National Masters Track Championships at Kentner Stadium on the campus of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday Jul. 19, 2014.

—Bruce Chapman/Journal

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The moment , being down to his last attempt, was nothing new for McBarnette. He said that he had been in a similar situation several times. The win gave him his 29th USATF Masters championship in a career that includes 11 world championships. He also has been named the USATF athlete of the year for his age group nine times, and was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 2009.

However, he said that his experience and success didn’t make his final run at the record any less stressful.

“I’ve been in the situation any times before, it’s stressful enough, it’s always stressful,” he said. “It’s always a challenge, and you always have to get your head into it, especially when you’re down to your last attempt.”

Moments later, across the track, David Schmanski began his first run at a national championship in the 800 meters for the men’s 60s division.

What happened next was beyond his wildest dreams — Schmanski ran away from the field to finish in 2:19.36, and nearly six seconds ahead of world-record holder Nolan Shaheed.

Schmanski, a realtor from Nashville, Tenn., began running just three years ago, and after he did well at the local level, friends encouraged him to pursue a national championship.

After obsessively studying Shaheed’s times throughout the week, Schmanski said he felt as if he had a chance — but Saturday’s race was a shock.

The race was slow out of the gate, and Schmanski was happy to follow Shaheed’s lead, especially after what happened Friday — Schmanski went out too fast in the 400 prelims and hit the wall in the last 100 meters.

“I figured he’s the man to beat, I stuck, and I said, ‘He’s the world champ, he knows what he’s doing,’” Schmanski said. “I’m the little rabbit here, I’ll sit here, and I’ll tuck behind him.”

With the pace about six seconds behind his expectation, Schmanski said he lost his patience in the final 300 meters and decided to go as hard and fast as his body would allow.

“I’m inexperienced, I don’t know the psychology of running,” he said. “I’m just, ‘Run Forrest, run,’ I just go out there and follow the fast guy and try to do good down at the end.”

Schmanski is now a two-time national champion.

“Don’t pinch me,” he said. “I don’t want to wake up — it’s so cool.”

Posted: Sunday, July 20, 2014 12:05 am

bwilkerson-new@wsjournal.com

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Contact Information: Bruce McBarnette, Esq.     248 Willow Terrace  Sterling VA 20164    (703) 404-8429 bruce@mcbarnette.com