As an aspiring communications major headed for Temple, and chief of the school newspaper, Riverside track standout Bry Burnside has come to think in terms of headlines and getting good, accurate stories.
As a sprinter for the Lady Vikes, her success on the track would make excellent fodder for the Valhalla Gazette at Riverside.
She could write about surpassing her best times in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, as well as her work as the anchor leg of the 4-by-100 relay team, if she chose a statistical angle.
“I’ve run a 13.4 (seconds) in the 100 and a 29.6 in the 200,” Burnside said with pride. “My goals this year were to set personal bests in all my events, and to qualify for the district meet in all my events, and I’ve already done that.”
So she has a new goal of lowering her times as the season winds down, trying to get better every time she steps on the track.
A different angle the senior could pursue is being a giant on the track. Few area sprinters stand at 5-foot, 11-inches tall like Burnside, who started at center for the Lady Vikes basketball team. Many high school sprinters are shorter than that, which may both an advantage and a disadvantage.
“They don’t expect me to be fast,” Burnside said. “I don’t have a sprinter’s body, but somehow it works.
“She’s tall, but she carries it well,” Riverside girls track coach Deb Kapelan said. “They may have underestimated her, but she has a history and she’s already established herself as a good sprinter.”
Perhaps because of her height, Burnside is slow out of the blocks, taking awhile to get up to full speed. But when she puts it all together, she can chew up any deficit as she powers to the finish line.
“She has a lot of natural talent. Any adjustments that have had to be made, she adapted quickly,” Kapelan said. “She makes up for it as she gets into her rhythm. There are other tall sprinters, so I don’t see her height as a great disadvantage, never thought it was a hindrance because she’s had a lot of success.”
“I’m a better finisher. I practice block work a lot, trying to get the timing down,” Burnside said. “I’m usually behind at the start, but ahead at the finish. I’m very competitive, and if someone is chasing me, I push myself harder.”
That last phrase opens up another story angle as Burnside has adjusted her mental attitude this year, and is enjoying more success because of it.
“It’s my senior year and I wanted to go out with a bang, give all I have,” Burnside said. “But I’m more relaxed; it’s more fun for me.”
“She’s a type A personality, and that may have held her back in previous years,” Kapelan said. “She didn’t run as relaxed as she is now. It seems like she’s having so much more fun this year. It’s nice to see.”
That began at the start of the year, when Riverside paid a visit to windy Lakeland, where Burnside saw it all come together as a sneak peak to her senior season.
“It was about 20 degrees, and I ran a 13.7,” Burnside said. “That was pretty good. I didn’t run that when it was warmer.”
But now she is, and that makes for an easy headline for the Valhalla Gazette, one that neatly summarizes her season and career — “Burnside Blazes to the Finish.”