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Barden makes U.S. baton twirling team

By: Matt Long, Sports Editor
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Two years ago at the US Trials of Baton Twirling, Sophia Barden placed fourth overall. This past weekend in Shelbyville, Indiana, Barden won the competition, as she solidified herself as one of the top junior baton twirlers in the nation.

“This year, I finished in front of two girls who finished in front of me two years ago, so it means a lot to me,” the Oak Ridge junior said Monday. “It’s good to know that I’ve reached that level. It’s easy on my conscience.”

Barden’s work is not done. The top-four finishers have made the team, but must compete at Nationals in July with the top-three earning the right to represent the United States at the World Championships in August in Florida.

Barden definitely wants to stay on top of her competition in the nation, but making the podium at worlds is her goal. She placed ninth in the World Championships in 2016 in Sweden.

“I want to medal and be on the podium, which would be a top-three finish,” Barden said. “My mom and my coach will tell you my goal is to place first.”

Earlier last week, Barden was awarded the Female MaxPreps Semper Fidelis High School Athlete of the Month for the month of March.

Barden received the award in front of family and classmates at a ceremony at Oak Ridge High March 20. A two-sport athlete at Oak Ridge in soccer and track and field, Barden’s best sport is baton twirling, something she’s been doing since she was 4 years old. She’s got more trophies and medals than she can count from the hundreds of local, state, regional, national and international competitions in which she’s competed.

At Oak Ridge, Barden recently completed her junior soccer season in which she anchored the team’s defense as a center back. She’s been playing soccer since she was 9.

“When I found out that Sophia was highly skilled in another sport, it made sense,” Oak Ridge soccer coach Joe Champion said. “She’s ultra aggressive, and she wants to compete and win on the soccer field, just like she does at baton.”

Barden said she can’t imagine a future without both baton and soccer. Her goal is to get into college and to compete and succeed.

Barden received the MaxPreps Semper Fidelis High School Athlete of the Month from Andy Beal, the Founder and President of MaxPreps via Captain Joshua DeWalt of the United States Marine Corps.

“I want to thank MaxPreps and the Marines for this opportunity,” Barden said. “I’d also like to thank my parents, my school, my coaches and all those who have supported and helped me.”