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Burns Continues to Sprint Past The Competition

By MTN Sports Reporter: Conner Smith

Murfreesboro, Tenn. – For Jackson Burns, sports have always been a way of life. He’s been a multi-sport athlete since he was six. Throughout his sports journey, the Chattanooga native has worked extremely hard and even transferred schools. But it’s paid off, as now Burns is thriving and is coming off two Conference USA (CUSA) medals in track and field two months ago.

“I really like MTSU. I think the way they treat their athletes is better. It’s a much more professional atmosphere, and they hold themselves to a higher standard, knowing where they are, which is a good city for athletics, and with some of the caliber of teams we have on campus,” said Burns.

Burns is a sprinter at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU), where he runs the 200-meter, 4x100-meter, and 4x400-meter. But to tell the full story of his athletic career, we’ll have to go back to his high school career, where he attended the prestigious McCallie School in Chattanooga.

While Burns was a two-sport athlete for the Blue Tornado, he stood out on both the football field and track. He was a two-time state champion as the starting safety for McCallie, he also excelled in track and field where he helped win McCallie’s first state title in nearly 100 years (1929). So, it was no surprise when he got looks from several Division I programs, but ultimately, he landed in Cookeville as a walk-on at Tennessee Tech for football, as well as track and field.

In his lone year with the Golden Eagles, it was obvious that TTU was not a great fit for Burns.

“Honestly I found out that the atmosphere just was not for me,” said Burns. “I wasn’t necessarily pleased with how sports were going either; I wasn’t getting an opportunity to play on the football field. Along with that I was just kind of burnt out of football. So, with those two things combined I thought it was time to start looking at some other schools.”

Like anyone else would do, he entered the transfer portal and ended up landing with MTSU for track and field. Now in his second year with the Blue Raiders, Burns is thriving. In his first year. Now in his second year, he helped capture a second-place finish in the distance relay and third in the 4x400-meter during the CUSA championships Feb. 23-24.

Obviously winning awards like that in a solid conference like CUSA is rewarding, but it means even more to Burns.

“You know it was special to me to win both of those medals. I dealt with confidence issues in high school. I didn’t think I had the build to be an athlete at the next level,” said Burns. “I fixed that by basically living in the gym the last few years. But also, it came from not playing at Tennessee Tech, I was wondering why I wasn’t playing because I was so used to starting in high school. Luckily, I came to MTSU, and they’ve given me a great opportunity and I’ve been able to take advantage of that.”

Burns isn’t the only person to have those kinds of issues. Every athlete at some time has confidence issues or is doubting themselves, but it’s important to have someone to go to in those types of situations. For Burns it was his parents, Sherri, and Jeff Burns.

“My parents have been massive when it comes to my athletic career and life in general.” Said Burns. “My dad was a college football player at Tennessee Tech and is very knowledgeable about sports and how I needed to train to change my body, as well as helping me become a better man. As for my mom, she was a rock for me, I could always go to her when I was in my head about sports or really anything honestly. Both of my parents have helped me succeed and to be the man and athlete I am today. I’m so thankful that I have that in my life.

Something else that Burns has to deal with is school, and some athletes have an easy major but for him, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Burns is a mechanical engineering major who constantly has to deal with difficult classes and nonstop studying, on top of the fact that he’s an athlete. You may wonder, how does he do that? Well, it’s definitely not easy but Burns is always able to push through and keep up with both things.

“It’s honestly like having two jobs; it’s not easy at all,” Burns said. “It’s gotten better since I moved away from football, but I mean it’s still like working two full-time jobs. On one hand, track is a constant thing considering we have fall and spring seasons so I’m at practice daily, working out, and trying to eat well to keep my body in shape. Also, I’m a full-time student, so I can’t do other things that my friends and teammates want me to do because I’m busy with homework or studying. It’s not easy at all, but I keep pushing because I enjoy it.”

With some of the struggles Burns dealt with during his freshman year, it’s outstanding to be able to look at what he’s been able to do. He is an example that if you keep working towards something you love, the results will come, and the hard work always pays off.

With two years left of eligibility, Burns has several goals in mind and has a plan to achieve them.

“I obviously want to graduate and get my degree on time, but I’m not finished with track yet, and I know I can be better,” Burns said. “I want to get my times down and to be able to get some more medals, maybe even a CUSA championship. First off, I’d say it starts with my diet, I’ve got to eat better to help fuel my body. Then, obviously, I need to get on the track and get to work on getting my times down, and I trust my coaches and trainers will help me with that. I’m excited for the opportunities I’ve gotten down here and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me at MTSU.”


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