May 13, 2015 9:24 PM by Ross Field
From All-Conference to All-West Region honors in cross country, to becoming the CCAA Freshman of the Year in track, it's been a magical season for Chico State distance runner Alex Burkhart and as Action News Now's Ross Field reports, even bigger things are on the horizon.
What a year it's been for Alex Burkhart. In the fall, the true freshman roped in All-CCAA and All-West Region honors in cross country.
But the success did not stop there.
This spring, on the track and field scene, Burkhart took up the steeplechase (3,000-meter race that includes hurdles and a water jump). She says she had no idea how she would do at first because she had never run hurdles before.
"I wasn't great at first and my form still isn't perfect, but I really wanted to try a different event," said Burkhart.
Chico State track and field coach Gary Towne adds, "I thought it would be good if she broke 12 minutes. In her first one, she broke 11 minutes so she sure showed how little her coach knew about her I suppose(laughter). And then as the season's gone on she's chopped off a lot more time!"
Amazingly, Burkhart now owns the second fastest time in the steeplechase in Chico State history, 10:27.26 seconds.
"I definitely had the goal that weekend at that race to go in and get the school record, but even though I did not get it, I wasn't unhappy with how I performed. I got an automatic qualifier into the NCAA's that day and it was a personal record, so I was very excited," said Burkhart.
Her time was less that one-and-a-half seconds off the Chico State record, 10:25.97 seconds set by Amy Schnittger in 2013.
"That record was set by a multi All-American so Alex is already in really good company," said Towne.
Burkaht went onto win the steeplechase and the 5,000-meters at the CCAA Conference championships. Now, she's gearing up for the NCAA's next week.
"I'm just going to go in with the same mind-set I had all year, just be strong and try to become an All-American," said Burkhart.
For Burkhart, the competition will not come to an end after Nationals.
"She's already qualified for the USA Junior Meet which is in Eugene, Oregon this summer."
"I'm really excited to compete there and the top two go to the Pan Am games, that'd be really great, I'd get to have a USA jersey and everything," said Burkhart.
It's already been a truly amazing season for Alex Burkhart, one that has the potential to get even better for this young Wildcat with a bright future.