The last few weeks have been busy ones for Jenny Barringer. On Janurary 22nd it was announced that she signed a multi year endorsement deal with New Balance shoes. No surprise that Jenny turned pro. She ended her collegiate career in awesome style last year setting personal bests over 800 (2:02.56), 1500 (3:59.90), 5000 (15:05.25), and the 3000 steeplechase (9:12.50). Collegiately her 1500 was a college record and she won the NCAA championship in the steeplechase. Internationally she was 5th in the steeplechase at the World Championships in Berlin and set an American Record in the process. She was more than ready for the next stage of her career.
Slightly surprising was that the deal was with New Balance since Nike and Adidas tend to get the bigger fish as they leave the pond and head to the professional level. Landing Barringer was a coup for New Balance who is obviously looking to broaden its appeal and move more aggressively into the shoe wars.
More surprising to me was the news yesterday that Barringer will be joining the professional ranks with a new coach, as she is leaving collegiate coach Mark Wetmore who guided her to the ranks of the elite while she was at Colorado University. Typically I get a little leery about athletes having success and leaving the one that “got em there”. But this time I’m actually excited.
Excited because Barringer has chosen to be coached by Juli (Henner) Benson. Benson’s pedigree is in the ranks of middle distance. She was a 1500 meter runner at James Madison University. She competed internationally over 1500 meters for the US and has coached 1500 meter runners Treniere Clement, Chris Lukezic, and Kevin Sullivan during coaching stints at Georgetown and as a personal coach.
This excites me because it indicates that Barringer is looking to perhaps focus her considerable talents on the 1500 meters – an event that I’ve felt for some time could be her best event. Its one of the sports highlight events and one in which we could use more exposure internationally.
So I think this is good news for Jenny and great news for the US track and field team.