What the results show is impressive enough. Rowan placed fifth in the 1,600-meter relay at NCAA Division 3 nationals in La Crosse, Wisc., with a time of 3:11.47 — their fastest time this year.
The all-South Jersey quartet of freshmen Hunter Barbieri of Egg Harbor Township and Justin Bishop of Mainland Regional, junior Chris Mesiano of Schalick and senior Jamil Jackson of Highland helped the Profs finish third at nationals with 27 points, nine points behind national champion Mount Union of Alliance, Ohio.
What the results don’t show is exactly what went into that performance.
Rowan placed third at indoor nationals in 3:15.00 with a lineup that didn’t include Barbieri (or Jackson).
Being left off Rowan’s 4-by-4 lineup indoors was tough for Barbieri, but the road from being bypassed indoors to earning All-America honors outdoors is one that once again shows why track and field athletes are truly a different breed.
In a powerful Instagram post that illustrates exactly why this sport is so unique and so inspirational, Barbieri wrote about the disappointment of being left off Rowan’s 4-by-4 indoors and how it drove him to make sure it didn’t happen again.
In case that is too small, Barbieri wrote: “Finally an All-American…. Not being included in the finals for our teams 4×4 relay during the indoor season after being in it for prelims destroyed me mentally. So many emotions but not many words as I watched my relay go on to take 3rd in the finals without me. After that happened to me for a second time in consecutive seasons i had no want or desire to be on the track anymore. I wanted to be done with it because this is the only sport that has ever caused me that much pain mentally and physically. But deep down after getting past the pain something clicked. I needed to work harder and harder than I ever have before to get what i wanted. Every single day i was working harder on the track and in the weight room and my teammates were right by my side pushing me along. I dropped my pr (personal record) by a full second in the last 3 weeks of the season. My 4×4 splits were dropping into consistent 48 lows. I saw all the hard work paying off and finally seeing results felt amazing. I had one personal goal going into this outdoor season and that was to make sure i gave my coaches absolutely no reason to take me out of my relay and this week i dropped two 47.8 and 47.6 splits off the leadoff leg of our 4×4 at nationals. We killed it and i couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to do it with. You have to want to be successful as much as you want to breathe and boy was this a breath of fresh air.”
Just another example why track is the best sport ever!