First year of running begins career of achievement for MCHS senior

This is an installment in a series highlighting the accomplishments of those Moffat County High School athletes named All-Conference and All-Conference honorable mention during the 2000-2001 athletic seasons.

A strong desire to compete in college athletics was the driving force that

drew Jarrod Burns from football and to cross country his senior year. Early in his high school career, Burns was one of Moffat County's receivers.

"I didn't see myself playing football in college, and I felt I had a good

chance to compete in running, so I went with my gut feeling," Burns said.

The switch was a wise decision for the senior. In his first year of competing in cross country, he was able to finish fourth in regionals and 28th at state this season. His high finish at regionals was enough to earn him All-Conference honors.

The boys cross country team finished 17th in state.

Burns was not a complete stranger to running when he joined the cross country team, he had been competing in the 800-meter run on the track team throughout high school, but he needed to change his training schedule to get himself ready for a fall season of long-distance running.

The summer before his senior year, Burns said he ran between 30 to 40

miles a week to prepare for the cross country season.

"He was an extremely hard worker for us. I wish we could have had him for

his whole high school career," cross country Coach Mike Gleason said.

Entering a new sport so late in high school did present certain problems for

Burns. He felt that while he did have the speed and the kick to win meets,

he lacked in the ability to read courses, which only comes with experience in the sport of cross country.

"Some of our younger guys on the team had experience on many of the

courses, and could read them well, which gave them a little bit of an advantage. I'm still just a rookie at that," Burns said.

The senior holds a key weapon in his running arsenal an aggressive style.

Burns said that he looks to run his races at the front of the pack, to keep

clear of getting stuck behind slower runners, and still be able to have a

kick at the end of the race.

"Jarrod was our number-one runner all year. Even in practice he's always the

first to finish," Gleason said.

Burns has found something in running that other sports he has participated in football and basketball don't have, a sense of independence.

He said that was probably the best aspect of running.

"In team sports, you have to rely on everyone else out there at that time. In

running, you're out there by yourself, you don't have to worry about anybody

else," Burns said.

The senior hopes to take his attitude of independent achievement to the

college level next year when he competes for the Western State College Mountaineers, the defending the NCAA Division II champions in cross country. The Mountaineers have won the national championship three of the past five years, and have been the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) champions six years running.

Burns is also contemplating playing on Western State's basketball

team.

But running will always be his focus.

"I was a great season," Burns said. "In your first year at any sport, you

want to go out there and show people that you can do it, and I think I did

that."

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