Archive for Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Fly Route

May 17, 2007

Cody Burns has been one of Eudora's elite long distance runners throughout his now nearly four-year career. An exciting change in style -- a shift in gears, or even better, the addition of an extra one -- led to his races at Thursday's Frontier League mirroring both his senior season and his running career.

In the 1,600-meter run, Burns ran tough and fast for the first 1,500 meters. He pushed the leaders, but never passed them, hanging hard a few positions and an ever-increasing distance behind.

As he rounded the final corner and stretched his legs toward the finish line at Ottawa's Steve Grogan Stadium, Burns said something clicked.

It wasn't one of those light bulb moments -- "I didn't think I could catch him ... I was 15 meters back with 60 to go," he said.

Burns kicked anyway and quickly found himself closing on the race's leader, Dan Haines of Paola. Obviously fast, but taller and thicker than Burns, Haines couldn't ratchet it up in time.

Actually it's debatable whether he even had time to try, Burns came from so far back so unexpectedly quickly.

Together they barreled toward the finish line and when they finally reached it, it was Burns by something, either a hair or a nose or a toe. No matter, he crossed first.

"I've been told by a lot of people my kick isn't very strong," Burns said.

He certainly has one now, and with his good-to-the-last-step attitude he's helped transform an already great career into something even better.

It wasn't just Thursday. Burns has been kicking since the final days of the cross country season. Burns was solid as always through the majority of the fall, but wasn't having the accolade-laden season he had expected after qualifying for state as a junior.

Just like Thursday, a sprint to the end capped his cross country career. He had to lunge for the line just to qualify for state again. A week later he was flying toward the finish at state and again realized his goal with a surge and by a hair. He finished 19th at state and earned his first cross country state medal.

Burns can still run well without the heart-thumping drive to the line. Even before he set a new person record in the 1,600 -- no small accomplishment considering the number of times he's made those four laps -- Burns was on course to qualify. Victorious by only .07 seconds in the 1,600, he won by more than two seconds in his better event, the 3,200.

Burns is far from done with running. He'll continue on next year at Emporia State running cross country and track.

He's only two meets from the end of his high school career, however, and it's rare to find athletes that milk their final days with the efficiency Burns has.

Two meets to go and he's kicking it in for a sprint to the finish.

"There's not a whole lot of strategizing in it," Burns said. "I've been working on my kick, and I think it's starting to show.

"I'm feeling good and I'm happy after every meet. I have more confidence now and I'm running at a high level. It's a great feeling."

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