Quaker ran into record books

Prep Focus • Runners follow distinct paths to the finish line

(news photo)


Bryce Burgess (inset, right) will leave two legacies at Franklin High after he graduates and heads to the University of Oregon: his track and cross country victories, and his brother, Ian Burgess, now a freshman.

 When Franklin High distance runner Bryce Burgess looks back at his record-breaking prep career, he can’t help but chuckle.

“It was just luck,” he says, laughing.

Burgess has set six school records. He won the Class 6A state cross country meet in the fall and is the reigning 3,000-meter champion in track. And he has committed to run for University of Oregon cross country and track teams next year.

All of this wouldn’t have been possible, had he not taken some of his friends’ advice.

Until eighth grade, he had never competed in long-distance running. His parents, John and Lisa, had no distance running experience, either. “Bryce had played baseball, basketball, soccer and stuff like that,” Lisa Burgess says.

Friends at Mount Tabor Middle School suggested he come to a meet and run.

“It took a lot of convincing,” Bryce says. “I couldn’t move the day after, but I just fell in love with it.”

That was good news for Franklin, where distance coach Jacob Michaels was immediately impressed.

“I told him specific things to do for the race, and he went out and did them perfectly, which is really rare for a freshman,” Michaels says.

Burgess has steadily improved. He broke the Franklin freshman records for the 3,000, 800 and 5,000 and set the school’s 3K course record. He also owns the varsity 5K all-time best, and last Friday he broke the 1,500 school record in track.

Michaels attributes all of the above to hard work.

“I can’t remember Bryce missing a workout in four years,” he says. “That shows how much determination he has.”

Burgess typically logs 60 to 70 miles a week, even though there are times when he doesn’t feel like lacing up the shoes.

“Some days, honestly, you think, ‘Man, I hate this,’ ” he says. “But you just kind of have to fight through them.”

Next year, Burgess will join the NCAA cross-country champion Oregon Ducks – and he realizes he’s stepping into a challenge.

“I’m going to be around guys as fast and faster than me every day,” he says. “So it’s an upward battle from here on out. But you just go out and do the best you can.”

Michaels says what gets freshman runners at Division I programs like Oregon’s in trouble the most is trying to do too much to prove yourself. He and Burgess have talked about that.

“The workouts for the experienced runners are so much tougher. A lot of kids think they can do them and only end up getting injured,” says Michaels, who ran for Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

Franklin will miss its state champion, but the Quakers will have another Burgess for three more years. Ian Burgess, Bryce’s brother, placed fourth-highest among all freshmen in the state cross country championships, and he’s already resembling his older brother.

“When they’re getting ready to kick, they both have that same intense look on their face,” Michaels says, smiling. “And they both have what the coaches in the league call the Burgess Kick.”

Michaels says Ian is a more aggressive runner than his brother.

“And he really likes to race,” Michaels says. “That’s one thing you really look for, because racing is physically and mentally painful. So if someone is into it, and enjoys coming to race, you know they’re probably going to be in it for the long haul.”

Ian’s role model isn’t Steve Prefontaine or Jim Ryun or any other famous Olympian. It’s Bryce.

The two competed against each other during the cross country season – if you can call it competing.

“I didn’t really see much of him,” Bryce says, laughing.

Ian agrees, saying, “I would see the back of him for a few minutes, and then he was gone.”

Next year, with Bryce running in Eugene, Ian will have his eyes on knocking off some of his older brother’s records.

“Ian is capable,” Bryce says. “It’s not something I worry about, because I hope he does break them.”