Meet Celera Barnes: USC’s next great sprinter 

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The first impression is usually one that lasts. If that is the case, then USC sprinter Celera Barnes wasted little time in letting the other runners at the Trojan Invitational in the 100 meters what time it was. As a matter of fact, it only took the former Saint Bonaventure High School star just over 11 seconds to make her point.

“I kind of had a little bit of nervous energy, but I just wanted to get a good start and then run through the line,” Barnes said.

Barners didn’t just run through that imaginary finish line, she blasted by it, leaving behind her smoke in the process. Coming into the race, Barnes knew what time she was looking to run. Barnes said she and USC assistant coach Carmelita Jeter had a specific time frame they thought she should be able to hit.

A graduate transfer from the University of Kentucky, Barnes executed her race strategy, hitting the tape in 11.12 seconds. That mark was good enough for Barnes to secure a first-place finish and earn her the top mark in the country. Her time was also the best she’d ever run in the 100 meters.

With no indoor season to prepare her for the outdoor races, Barnes added some flair in her debut as a Trojan. Her sizzling time in the short sprint was what Barners and Jeter, expected, she said.     

“My coach is Carmelita,” Barnes said. “She’s pretty [spot] on. She said I want to run anywhere from 11.10 to 11.15, and I looked up it was 11.12. I was like, `That’s great.’”

To put things in perspective, Barnes is getting coaching advice from a sprint legend. Jeter, dubbed “The Jet,” is in her first season as an assistant coach for the Trojans. In 2012, Jeter completed a trifecta, winning gold, silver and bronze medals at the London Olympics. She’s already having an impact on Barnes.

“It’s amazing,” Barnes said. “It’s a very amazing experience to be taught by somebody who not only knows about track but also has been in my footsteps. So, everything that she says I just take it. I believe in it 100 percent, and I do it. And you know, you see the results then happen. She’s amazing. I love her. I’m so grateful that I was able to spend my last year of eligibility here at USC.”    

Before she took to the starting blocks at Cromwell Field & Loker Track Stadium, located on the campus of USC, the fastest Barnes had ever run in the 100 was 11.16. That was back in 2018 when she finished fourth at the NCAA East Prelims. That was ions ago. Her goal this season is to dip below 11 seconds and win an NCAA title, Barnes said. 

“At the end of the season, I just want to go sub 11 and I want to be a national champion,” she remarked. “Pretty simple.”

By running 11.12, Barnes appears she will not have an issue in dropping below 11 seconds. To gauge just how fast she ran, Barnes recorded the eighth-fastest time ever by a Trojan woman. Her winning time at the Trojan Invitational is only a hiccup off of the school record of 10.89 that was set by Twanisha “T.T.” Terry in May 2021.    

March 19, 2022. USC sprinter Celera Barnes powers her way to victory in the women’s 100 meters at the Trojans Invitational. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Kentucky’s loss is certainly the Trojans’ gain. According to Barnes, who began her collegiate career at UCLA, Kentucky had some issues in renewing her scholarship. This wound up setting up a chain of events that allowed her to come back home to her roots in Southern California, which she is excited about. 

“I love it,” Barnes said. “I love it. My family is here. I can hear them. I love the support. You know, just being a familiar name where everybody just kind of know who I am. It’s amazing.”

Barnes also finds the opportunity to run for one of the more prestigious track and field programs in the nation pretty awesome as well.

“It’s amazing,” said Barnes. “I was never here. I went to UCLA and I went to Kentucky, so I’ve always watched USC. They’ve always had a very, very good track program, from Angie [Anneius] to T.T. Terry. They’ve been some of my inspiration. Being here I hope to keep that going.”     

Dennis J. Freeman

Dennis is the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He is also the publisher and editor of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. Dennis has more than two decades of reporting experience. His beats include covering sports, social and racial justice, and equal rights. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University. "I write what I'm passionate about."