Maggie Barrie has taken her game to the next level.
Barrie, a 2014 Worthington Kilbourne High School graduate and Ohio State senior track and field standout, will compete in the IAAF World Championships in London. The event begins Friday, Aug. 4, and concludes Aug. 13.
A first-generation American, she will represent Sierra Leone in the 400 meters, which begins with preliminaries Sunday, Aug. 6. The final is Wednesday, Aug. 9.
“I feel so blessed to have this opportunity,” said Barrie, who has competed in the 400 for about a year. “My dad (Andrew) was a short sprinter and represented Sierra Leone in the 60, 100 and 200. He was my first coach and he passed along his love of running.
“I only ran the 400 once in (the 2016 outdoor season) and the coaches encouraged me to take a serious look at it. I ran a good time without any strategy. But the more I trained for it, my times came down. I just loved the racing aspect. When I ran against faster girls, I ran better (races). But I’ve worked on having a strategy and I think I found my niche in the 400.”
Barrie lowered her time in the event from 54.4 seconds to 52.27, which she posted in the NCAA Division I East preliminaries in Lexington, Kentucky, on May 27. That time is the third fastest in the event at Ohio State and qualified her for the national championships June 7-10 in Eugene, Oregon, where she also competed with the Buckeyes’ 1,600 relay.
Competing as an individual for the first time in the national championships, Barrie placed 22nd in 54.18. The 1,600 relay placed eighth in 3:31.36.
“This is the end to a terrific season,” Barrie said. “The top 24 nationally in each event are All-Americans, so I was a two-time All-American and now I get to represent Sierra Leone in the World Championships. Plus, I think I’m only going to get better in the 400 for my senior season.”
Barrie moved with her family from Derry, New Hampshire, to Worthington in 2012. Competing in the Division I state meet as a senior at Kilbourne, she finished eighth in the 200 (25.25) and 13th in the 100 (12.3). She was 12th in the 200 at state as sophomore before an injury-riddled junior season.
“Maggie is a great kid and her smile was tremendous,” said Todd Deisher, who coached Kilbourne sprinters and helped guide Barrie. “She was always so happy and her smile would brighten your day.
“But when practices began, she took care of business. She was a hard worker, durable and very dependable in anything from the 100 to the 400. She was one of those athletes you wish could participate in six events.”
She attended Xavier University as a freshman and won the Big East title in the 60 and placed third in the 100 before becoming a preferred walk-on at Ohio State as a sophomore, when she placed eighth in the 200 in the Big Ten indoor championships.
In the outdoor season, Barrie was on the 400 relay that placed second in the Big Ten and was on the 1,600 relay, where she began to open eyes in the 400.
“She has our school record in the 100 and still has the second-fastest 200 time and third-fastest 400 time since I’ve been here (2007),” Kilbourne girls coach Chip Seely said. “She lifted our entire sprint crew. … I look at her 400 splits now and they’re just amazing. Her coaches have done a terrific job with her speed endurance. I always knew she would be the most successful sprinter we’ve had at the college level because of her willingness to work hard. She has really put it together and it’s fun to watch her.”
Barrie can’t wait to test herself and perform well in London as a way of thanking her family, coaches and friends.
“It’s been a different path, from New Hampshire to Kilbourne to Xavier to Ohio State, but I think God has a plan and He put me in positions to succeed,” Barrie said. “My mom (Patricia) and dad have always been there for me and my coaches at every stop have been very helpful and encouraging.
“Getting to compete on the world stage and all of the wonderful things that are happening make me feel truly blessed. It’s all so amazing.”