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PHS’s Barnette, Belpre’s Fullerton make history

Both runners set records during Nutter Invitational

PARKERSBURG — After breaking respective school records at last week’s Kim Nutter Invitational in the 3200, Belpre’s Eli Fullerton and Parkersburg’s Keegan Barnette will be back at it again this Friday with hopes of a repeat in the 1600.

During last Friday’s home meet at Stadium Field, the Big Red and the Golden Eagle had worked out a plan to hopefully push themselves to record-breaking times.

That’s indeed what transpired. Fullerton, who had broken the Belpre school record earlier this year, nipped Barnette 9:15.29 to 9:15.81 as the duo also established new personal records.

“Our goal was to go for 9:20,” admitted Barnette, who is still scouting out colleges. “When we both crossed the line there was no doubt in our mind, we had broken the records for our respective schools.”

Fullerton, a four-time all-Ohioan who will compete at Indiana Wesleyan University, said “it was a lot of fun just being able to push each other the whole time and to be able to do it with one of my best friends was amazing.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better race. During the offseason, we train together a lot. If we can (during the season) one time a week, we’ll try and get together. Here recently we haven’t been able to, but in the offseason we train a lot.”

While the Golden Eagle now also owns the Stadium Field record in the 3200, getting the school record for Barnette and finishing runner-up in the race also was a bit interesting.

During his senior year of 1980, Parkersburg’s James Daniell actually set the record with a time of 9:30.20, which resulted in a runner-up finish at the state track meet.

“I was surprised to know I really had that record. I never thought about it quite honestly,” admitted Daniell, who lives in South Carolina and after his Big Red career went to Duke and earned a dozen varsity running letters. “I’m thrilled to be knocked out of the books. Honestly, I really never considered myself to have the record.

“I always followed in the shadow of Kim Nutter, who was kind of my idol coming through. I was really pleased to read that Keegan broke the record in the meet named after Kim Nutter. Such a great runner at the time and one of the greatest all-time runners in West Virginia. It’s just a great story it would last that long and be done at Kim’s meet.”

Daniell said he hopes Barnette’s effort will help inspire his current teammates and future Big Reds in the coming years.

“I’ve just continued to follow the Big Reds in track and cross country over the years,” said Daniell.

“I was kind of admiring and watching Keegan from afar, but when this record came out, I reached out to him and congratulated him and let him know I’m thrilled for him and wished him the best the rest of the season for him and all the Big Reds.

“It’s probably hard for him to relate to someone that’s 58 years old calling him up. What a great kid and I think he’s going to be a great steward of that record and probably help kids along the way. It was really good to get in touch with him.”

The duo will be back on the track this Friday at Parkersburg South’s Invitational with hopes of a repeat performance in the 1600.

“Me and Keegan will be racing in the mile, the 1600, and I’m pretty sure (Big Red) Franklin Angelos will be in that as well,” Fullerton said.

“We’re both trying to go for our own schools’ records on Friday. Belpre is 4:21 and PHS is 4:16(.21 by Kim Nutter) so we are shooting for around 4:15.

“Obviously, it’s nice to win but we both knew we couldn’t have run that time without each other and we were both excited for each other and I’d been the same for him if he’d beat me.”

Barnette was more than happy to see all his summer and winter training pay off.

“I think we are both going to double in the mile and in the 800, but our goal is to have some good times in the mile,” Barnette said. “I definitely came into the season wanting to run as fast as I can. My main goal has always been the mile. I want to have the mile record leaving PHS.”

The experience of Friday’s meet is one Barnette will remember for a lifetime.

“I never heard the crowd that loud before, especially for distance events,” said the Big Red. “It was just on another level. Running that race was very special and to be at PHS, at home, it made me very happy and proud of myself to be able to do something like that.

“It was just a different atmosphere than any race I’ve ever ran there. I still plan on running in college. I haven’t made a final decision yet. Just going to wait and see how things shake out.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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