Connor Burns has headed to the Northwest hoping again to add to his resume and to the Missouri High School record books, as he nears the end of his junior season. He also hopes to run well enough to extend his junior season and compete internationally for the first time.
Burns runs the Boys Two-Mile at 4:00 p.m. CT today at the Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle. Burns joins former Missouri Prep greats like Brandon Miller, Alicia Burnett, Anna West, CJ Jones, Noah Kauppila, and Hannah Long in being invited to and competing in the meet. This year marks the 8th outdoor edition and 12th overall, after the first three were held indoors during the indoor season in previous February's.
At the MSHSAA State Track and Field Championships at the end of May, Burns broke Jason Pyrah's Class 3 State Meet Record and Austin Hindman's overall State Meet and overall State Record in the 3200-meters with his jaw-dropping 8:48.76 clocking. The next day he ran another PR (Personal Record) in the outdoor 1600-meters with a 4:06.49 runner-up Class 3 finish.
Less than a week later Burns became the 15th U.S high school boy to break the 4-Mile barrier for a full mile and just the third junior to do so, after Jim Ryun and Lukas Verzbicas. Burns ran 3:58.83 to take 5th in the Men's Mile at the Festival of Miles behind fellow high schooler Gary Martin and three professionals. That made him the 7th-fastest high schooler ever in the event which is nine-meters longer than a 1600. A day later, senior Rheinhardt Harrison of Florida became the 16th high schooler to go Sub-4.
Burns had already bettered Pyrah's school season state record of 4:03.54 1600 from the 1987 state meet and Hindman's post-school season record of 4:04.53 full mile (Track and Field News 1600 conversion: 4:03.13) at the 2017 adidas Dream Mile, with his 4:02.96 full mile in a men's college race at Iowa State indoors in February.
Burns will need to run faster than 8:47.30 two-mile today to run faster than any Missouri boy ever in the combined 3200/2-mile conversion list. Austin Hindman holds that record with his senior year 8:43.40 runner-up Invitational 3200-meter finish at the 2017 Arcadia Invitational. That is the same meet Burns ran 8:52.79 at more than 2 months ago.
Two and a half days after his Festival of Miles race, Burns toed the line again. He ran the Music City Track Carnival Boys High School mile, placing 2nd in 4:09.12 in Nashville, 30-minutes before noon, Sunday, June 5. He finished runner-up to North Carolina's Rock Hansen, who finished in 4:03.99, coming up short of joining Burns on the Sub-4 Junior List.
After today's 2-mile, Burns will head south to Eugene, Oregon, where the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation (NSAF) Nike Outdoor Nationals will be held from Thursday-Sunday. Burns will look to improve on his 1:57.44 800-meter PR he set when he kicked off his junior outdoor campaign at the Festus McCullough-Douglas Invitational on March 26. A PR for Burns shouldn't be a problem as he could run closer to 1:50 than his current 2-lap best. Burns can't be counted out of winning the race and his first national championship. He'll will race on Sunday at 6:25 p.m. Pacific Time, or 4:25 p.m. in Missouri. He'll be joined in the Championship sections of the 800 by 34 others, including fellow Mid-Missouri star Garrett Wilmes, the Tolton Catholic senior.
While the NSAF Nike Outdoor Nationals appearance will be his second straight at the meet, the following week Burns will make his USA Track and Field Junior and Senior Championship meet debut. Burns is scheduled to race in the Under-20 1500-meters. Burns will race the 1500-meter 1st round at 3:12 p.m. CT on Friday, June 24th. The finals are set for 7:03 p.m. CT the next day, Sunday, June 25th. Burns will likely need to get close to his Festival of Miles 1500-meter en route to full mile time of 3:41.96, to be competitive against men who've just completed their college freshman year who have yet to reach their 20th birthday, that usually dominate the distance races yearly at the meet.
If Burns can finish in the top-2 at the meet, which used to be called the USATF Junior Championships, he'll earn a Team USA berth to the World Under-20 Championships in Cali, Colombia, August 1-6. Qualifying for the biennial meet has happened more than a few times for Missourians, but ever fewer for those not following their freshman year in college. And it's even more rare to do it after a high school junior season.