Sprinting, scoring tries and somersaulting spectacularly at formal dinners, Ryan Barnes from Christchurch Boys’ High School enjoys doing things quickly.
The Year 12 student is one of the key players in his First XV and is ranked in the top five sprinters at under-19 level in New Zealand.
Up until two years ago Barnes only occasionally dabbled in athletics, but surprised himself with rapid improvements under the guidance of former Commonwealth Games sprinter Beverley Peterson.
“I’ve always been fairly quick, but I didn’t take sprinting seriously until Beverley started coaching me. She has taught me so much about preparation and technique,” Barnes reflects.
Barnes attended his first National Track and Field championships two years ago and only managed to reach the quarter finals of the 100m. In 2016 his result suggested he is a talent to watch.
“I was the youngest competitor in the senior 100m final and finished seventh. I was pretty pleased with that result given I have two more years.” Barnes recalls.
Barnes has a PB of 11.20s in the 100m and 23.20s in the 200m. At the 2017 South Island championships he was second in the 100m trailing “a year 14 from Waitaki Boys.'”
Last winter Barnes made similarly rapid progress in rugby. Harbouring little hope of making the First XV, Barnes practically played the entire season and scored two tries in the historical Christ’s College fixture.
“The college match is such a big occasion. The atmosphere is so great you can hardly hear yourself think. We went in as the underdogs on Upper Field, but the support of our school was awesome and really got us pumped. The first try I scored was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. I was ecstatic after the second one.” Barnes enthuses.
Barnes derived even greater satisfaction from winning the UC Championship final 21-20 against Shirley Boys’ High School at Rugby Park.
“I started on the wing in the final, but had to switch to fullback after ten minutes. The atmosphere was similar to the College match. I was subbed with 10 minutes to go, which I had mixed feelings about. I was so nervous watching the rest of the game from the touchline, but it was just the best feeling to win.” Barnes says.
Christchurch are favourites to retain the UC Championship in 2017 and have gone 17 games (two this year) unbeaten in the tourney. However this season hasn’t all been plain sailing. At the St. Paul’s Collegiate First XV festival, Christchurch were thumped 46-6 by St. Kentigern College.
“Even though we led that game 6-5 at halftime I personally felt we were just weathering the storm. Playing St Kent’s was a huge challenge for us. We are not used to that physicality in the South Island.” Barnes admits.
However the benefits of the camp far outweighed the heavy loss.
“Having five days away was great for building team culture. We learned a lot from interacting with other teams and listening to coaches like Wayne Smith too.” Barnes believes.
At the official tournament dinner Barnes stunned the crowd with his somersaulting during the fashion parade. Each school had to design a wearable arts costume and parade it on a catwalk.
“That was a lot of fun. I like to express myself.” Barnes laughs.
Barnes was named Mr Junior at the 2015 Kaiteriteri Carnival, something he neglected to tell this humble correspondent.
Christchurch will be hoping Barnes’ style shines through when they travel to Timaru Boys’ High School next Tuesday for an early season top of the table clash.
“Timaru are a good side. They have some big boys and a lot of returning players. They gave Shirley a bit of a hiding on Saturday. We will have to be at our best to beat them.” Barnes stresses.
Barnes identifies halfback Louie Chapman and hooker Adam Reid as two players to watch closely in the Christchurch team this year. Barnes laughs his favourite subject is classics because coach Mike Dury takes the class.
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