By David Fong
TROY — It may have been Ashley Barr’s birthday, but the truth of the matter is Eastern Kentucky University is the one getting the gift.
“I’m really excited,” Barr, a senior sprinter on the Troy High School girls track and field team, said moments after signing her national letter of intent with EKU on her birthday last Wednesday. “It feels so real now.”
Barr will get the chance to compete for a Division I program while getting a college education. The Colonels will be getting a versatile sprinter capable of competing in any number of events. Barr has been a the Trojans’ “Swiss Army Knife” the past four years, capable of competing in just about any distance from 100 to 800 meters, along with all of Troy’s relays.
“She hasn’t always gotten the attention she deserves because she came in at the same time as Gracie Huffman and Kelsey Walters, two of the better sprinters in our program’s history, but she has earned the reputation as one of the best sprinters in Southwest Ohio,” Troy girls track and field coach Kurt Snyder said. “She can run any sprint from 100 to 400, but she can also run the 800 if we need her to.
“She’s got the ability to run the 4×100 and the 4×800 — how many other kids can say that? She’s the type of kid who doesn’t hesitate to do whatever you need her to do. She puts in a lot of time in the weightroom and is one of the strongest kids we have on our team. She’s just a great kid.”
The versatile Barr has the 10th-fastest time in school history in the 100, the 10th-fastest time in school history in the 200 and the fifth-fastest time in school history in the 400. She’s also part of the sprint medley team that holds the school record. She’s a two-time state qualifier and part of a 4×100 relay team that placed seventh in the state in 2014.
With all of that talent, Barr had a number of schools to choose from — and certainly did her due diligence before selecting Eastern Kentucky University.
“I visited seven schools in six weeks,” she said. “EKU is the one that really stood out. I really get along well with the coaches and I loved the campus.”
She also had some guidance she could count on during the college selection process. Her father Jim was a college baseball player, while her older brother Mathew currently is a quarterback on the football team at Robert Morris University.
“I got a lot of help from my brother,” Barr said. “I was able to watch everything he went through and I kind of knew what to expect when I went on college visits. I definitely feel blessed to have had all the support I’ve had. I’m very thankful for that.”
While at Eastern Kentucky, Barr likely will get a chance to do something she’s unaccustomed to — focusing on one event. She said she’ll likely specialize in the 400 for the Colonels.
“It’s going to be a lot different, but I’m kind of excited to be able to focus on just one event,” Barr said.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong