By DEREK BEIGH
MT. VERNON —
For the four men of Team Red Barn, losing nearly 25 percent of their combined body weight last spring was a challenge they couldn’t pass up. But doing it twice?
“We didn’t want to do it at first, but then we talked about it and realized we still weren’t in as good of shape as we really wanted to be,” said Aaron Webb of Mt. Vernon. “We figured it was a great way to start the year, and we’d see if we could win another one.”
Not that the first one was easy. When brothers-in-law Casey McCom-mons of Ina, Rex Roberts of Benton and Ryan Skibo of Ewing got together with old friend Webb in the winter of 2010, they had one goal in mind: Lose weight in the competitive environment of the Jefferson County YMCA’s Lose to Win program.
The team dedicated themselves to the cause for the next two months, doing cardio and lifting weights six days a week and cutting sweets from their diets.
Ultimately the group exceeded its goal: Not only did Team Red Barn win top team with 24.88 percent of its combined starting weight lost, the four also swept the top individual spots of the competition. Mc-Commons and Webb, both YMCA members, led the field.
Roberts compared the experience to slimming down for a wrestling meet, as he and McCommons did at Benton Consolidated High School. Webb drew another parallel from the group’s past.
“We started cycling together as a group a couple years ago, and we do it all the time during the summer,” he said. “In January Casey was already riding his bike outside, so we got out there and joined him.”
Although returning in 2011 turned out to be an easy choice, Roberts said coming back to defend their first-place finish made the pressure on Team Red Barn different for round two.
“It was more difficult because the first year we won by a landslide, and it adds to the pressure,” he said. “But we’re guys, so competition is always what we’re looking for. We thought we could win again.”
They did just that: Team Red Barn took first place in 2011 with 22.36 percent lost, while its members took top four individual honors again. This time, however, Skibo bested
McCommons for first place individual, and Webb said the competition between team members proved as fierce as the battle between the teams.
“Being guys, we wanted to beat each other as well as beating other people and losing weight,” he said. “That really got us going.”
“We’re a team, but everybody wants to win that overall,” Roberts said.
McCommons, Skibo and Webb, who used cycling as a primary method of shedding pounds, donated part of their 2010 winnings to found the SRM Memorial Bike Ride.
The 30, 60 and 100-mile Franklin and Jefferson County trek aims to raise funds for a Benton High scholarship in honor of Steve “Big Mac” McCommons, Casey’s father, a much-beloved teacher at the school and an avid cyclist who died unexpectedly in 2008 at age 52.
The first ride, held last fall, was a success that Webb hopes to improve when the second runs Sept. 17.
“We know Steve would really like for us to do it, so we’re hoping that it grows,” he said. “Last time I believe around 60 riders showed up. We’d love to double that this year.”
When asked about a third year for Team Red Barn, Roberts and Webb were coy; while they don’t expect to experience the kind of backslide that led them to participate again this winter, the love of the game could keep them coming back.
“We all said that we’re going to stay in shape so we don’t need to get back into the competition, but I’m not ready to rule it out,” Webb said. “It’s a fantastic way to lose weight. You get in shape and have fun while doing it.”