Boys Track

Valpo vaulter Burnett has an affinity for the air

2012-05-23T19:00:00Z 2013-05-09T17:24:07Z Valpo vaulter Burnett has an affinity for the airBy Jim Peters jim.peters@nwi.com, (219) 548-4363 nwitimes.com

Whether he's stepping off a diving board or soaring into the sky off a long stick, Muyenda Burnett spends a lot of time in the air.

"You've got to be a little crazy," the Valparaiso junior admits, describing the personality of a pole vaulter.

In either case, Burnett's been a quick study. He took up diving as a freshman and came out of nowhere to finish second in the state this season. He began vaulting that same year and is knocking on the door of big things in the event as well.

"We've seen it a lot in the past with girls in gymnastics," Valpo coach Brett Polizotto said. "There seems to be a natural transition into vaulting. Mo is the first one we've had with the spinning and twisting motions of diving who's transferred it into the vault."

While high school diving might not have same fear factor as the pole vault, Burnett's found common threads that translate to success in both.

"Diving helps with body awareness, knowing where you're at all times," he said. "Besides the weight room, my legs get stronger with all the bouncing on the board. Diving's definitely taught me to concentrate better. If you snap in diving, it's really bad. It teaches you to one-track (mind) it. "

Focus is a premium for Burnett, who also does the long jump, an event that parallels the pole vault in meets.

"Mentally, it's just thinking about what I have to do and how to get it done," he said. "I have to make sure I conserve the right amount of energy, drink a lot of fluids."

Valpo has also dabbled with Burnett in the hurdles and high jump, but there's only so much to go around.

"We've kept him busy," Polizotto said. "It definitely takes some extra concentration. He has the ability to run. We just haven't been able to utilize it much."

Burnett, who also plays football, will compete in the pole vault and long jump in tonight's Valparaiso Regional after placing second and fourth, respectively, in the events at the Portage Sectional.

"Honestly, I never pictured myself in the regional," Burnett said. "I was in a slump. I was just getting back from diving and I wasn't in shape yet. Then I snapped a pole at DAC indoor. I had to fumble with what we have and the new one's tighter, so it took a while. I finally got refocused, had a good couple weeks of practices and good meets."

Last year, Burnett vaulted 13-6 indoors, a height he hasn't been able to exceed since, despite going as high as 15 feet in practice.

"He started off real strong and picked it back up this year," Polizotto said. "He's set himself up to be in a position where he's matched his best and is ready, we think, to go a little higher."

Depending on conditions, Burnett will likely have to post a personal best to get out of the regional.

"I'm trying to get 14, 14-6," he said. "I'd like to put up another state (berth) like diving, not necessarily getting second. I'm definitely taking down records next year."

The school mark stands at 15-1, held by Nate Malone.

"It's nice to have people to look up to, to come in and try to learn things you've never seen from somebody who's better than you," Burnett said.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Who was the area's best baseball player this season?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News