One of the greatest athletes in Lehigh history, Justina Barone set 20 school records during her time in the Brown and White and won seven Patriot League Championships, between indoor and outdoor track. Barone won the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Patriot League pentathlon championship, and was named the Patriot League Field Athlete of the Meet on two occasions (2001, 2003) as well as the Patriot League Track Athlete of the Meet twice (2002, 2003). Barone was a seven time ECAC Qualifier and in 2003, became the first woman in Lehigh history to qualify for the USA Track and Field (USATF) Championship where she competed against a large pool of professional athletes en route to earning a 12th place finish in the combined events category.
Its a great honor to go into the Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame, Barone explained. I can truly appreciate it more now because of the year I just went through. What I gained in running under Coach Matt (Utesch) and Coach Deb (Utesch) has not left me. The fight and competitiveness I learned while at Lehigh has remained with me.
Barone then commented on her coaches while at Lehigh, Matt and Debbie Utesch. They were amazing. I had never hurdled before I came to Lehigh and so for them to realize that I had the ability to be successful in that event and to continually look out for me is something I cannot thank them enough for. She continued, Coach Matt and Coach Deb took an interest in me, not just on the track, but also in life. Coach Matt cared for me as if I was his own daughter and I really enjoyed the family-like atmosphere of the entire track program and all of Lehigh University.
Among the numerous school records Barone holds, 13 were in individual events and seven were as a member of a relay team. Barone won the 2002 and 2003 Patriot League Championship in the high jump and the 100 and 400-meter hurdles, and the 2003 Patriot League title in the 55-meter hurdles; she also holds the league record in the 55-meter hurdles and the pentathlon.
Barone was named the ECAC and Patriot League Athlete of the Week on numerous occasions, earned the 2003 ECAC Merit Award, received the Lehigh Valley Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women Outstanding Athlete Award the same year, and was named the Most Outstanding Female Senior Athlete by the Lehigh Athletic Department.
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Justina is that on days when things in the office were going rough, I could go out to practice and simply watch her run, and that would make me smile, Matt Utesch explained. She was extraordinary to watch compete, even in practice. Not only was she arguably the greatest female athlete at Lehigh, she is a great person to be around and I truly enjoyed just being around her. At our banquet following Justinas senior year, I told those in attendance that if my daughter grew up to be like Justina, that I would be a very happy father.
The 2002 Lehigh Track and Field Athlete of the Year and the 2001 Lehigh Track and Field Coaches Award winner, Barone was a three-time captain of the Mountain Hawks track and field program. She also qualified for the NCAA East Regional in 2003 in the 100 and 400-meter hurdles.
I had the privilege of getting to train, travel, and compete alongside Justina, explained Barones former college teammate Jenny (Warner) Southard 03. She is undoubtedly the most talented, hardworking and dedicated, yet humble athlete and friend I have ever known. She was gifted in so many different events, and worked so diligently at each of them to truly compete in the multi events in a field of her own.
She added, It was a joy to get to practice and represent Lehigh together. It is an honor to see her inducted into the Hall of Fame because I can think of no one more perfect to be remembered for hundreds of years to come as a top Lehigh athlete who exemplified a true leader, competitor, teammate and loyal friend. Congrats Big-T!
In addition to her athletic prowess, Barone was also involved in Lehighs award-winning C.O.A.C.H. program and served as the Secretary of the Student-Athlete Executive Board. Barone graduated from Lehigh in 2003 with a bachelors degree in economics.
A native of Dunkirk, New York, Barone had a stellar high school career on the track, placing fifth in the class B state championship in the 400-meters in 1997, 1998, and 1999. In 1999 she was also a member of the 4x100-meter relay team that placed fifth in the state.
We knew she was a good athlete coming in, Utesch commented, But the fact is she was such an incredible athlete that she was able to pick up hurdling in a very short time, and she had tremendous range in a number of events, as evidenced by the number of records she set in so many different events.
Barone twice participated in the Junior Olympics beginning in 1997 where she competed in the 400-meters and 4x100-meter relay in Buffalo, New York, while in 1998 she competed in Seattle, Washington in the 4x400-meter relays and the 4x800-meter relays.