After her junior season was wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic, it was important to Zoe Barnes that she enjoy her final season with her teammates.

Gray-New Gloucester’s Zoe Barnes is the Sun Journal’s Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year after earning state championships in the discus and shot put. Adam Robinson/Sun Journal

The Gray-New Gloucester High School thrower, who committed to the University of Southern Maine before the spring, also was ready to throw far — and she did, winning Class B state championships in the shot put at the discus. She also has been named the Sun Journal’s All-Region Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. 

“This year I was just laid back,” Barnes said. “Considering it was my last season, I wanted to be laid back and have fun with all my teammates and really make the most of it. Really going into it and taking it as it comes. I wish there was a New England (championship) meet because that’s where I really wanted to compete at.”

Barnes practiced with the Gray-NG indoor track and field team a couple of days a week during the winter, even though there were no meets in Maine. The Patriots senior did go to the Adidas Indoor Nationals meet in Virginia Beach, Virginia, in late February, where she placed 18th in the shot put (35 feet, 9.5 inches).

Barnes was particularly looking forward to competing this spring with no pain in her knee, unlike during her sophomore year. 

“The last time I was at a conference outdoor meet I was on a torn meniscus,” Barnes said. “I didn’t even know I had a torn meniscus until after the season and I had it checked out and I found out. It was a lot of taping for my knee and stuff. It was a lot better this year because I didn’t have my mind constantly on my knee, so I could have my mind on only my throws and not worrying about injuring it more.”

That allowed Barnes to put more focus on enjoying her final season, during which she went undefeated. 

During meets, Barnes didn’t face many throwers who could challenge her distances, so she needed to focus on herself in the pits.

“I don’t usually say it’s just me because I am a humble person when it comes to competing, but I like to keep my distances to myself and just work with my coach,” Barnes said. “I am very much an independent person when it comes to throwing, but I also love the support from my friends and teammates.”

Barnes constantly worked with her coach and watched videos of her throws to improve. 

At the Western Maine Championship meet, Barnes threw discus first and won the title with a top throw of 124-7, which was more than 20 feet farther than anyone else. Right after that, Barnes had to throw shot put. Although she was tired from discus, Barnes also won the shot put with a throw of 36-4.25, almost 5 feet better that the second-place thrower. 

Next up was the Class B state meet. In the final meet of her high school career, Barnes shined brightest.

“I was both nervous and excited because it was my last meet,” Barnes said. “I wanted to go in there and have a lot of fun. I have the best team and so I wanted to make the most of it, considering it was my last one with them.”

In discus, Barnes tossed a personal best throw of 128-4, more than 20 feet ahead of teammate Lorenza Piper, who placed second, and the best throw in Maine since 2017. Barnes also won the shot put with a winning throw up of 35-6.75, a foot-and-a-half farther than Piper, who again placed second.

“I had this really big throw and it was my first throw and it was definitely over 130 for discus, but my toe hit the edge of the circle,” Barnes said. “That was pretty unfortunate, but I was really consistent and I was pretty happy with how it turned out. With shot put, I was kind of, everyone seemed like they were in a slump because of how hot it was and the sun was blaring on us. We all did as good as we could have and I was happy.”

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