In Division I men’s track and field, a 5-foot 8-inch first-year is making waves in the long jump. Leaping 24.6 feet, he matches up against power five competition despite his young age and mid-major school. His name is Eric Burns.
Burns, a New Carlisle, Indiana native, has burst onto the scene in the indoor season and looks to be the next great long jumper, not only at Loyola, but also in the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC).
His 24.6-foot jump at the John Tierney Classic ranks second in the MVC this season, trailing Wichita State’s Hunter Veith by 4.8 inches, and is the third-longest jump in Loyola history. Burns said he believes he can reach the 25-foot milestone.
“It’s all about staying healthy and continuing to work out and train hard,” said Burns. “If I can continue to achieve these two things, I know I’ll continue to improve and reach my goal.”
Burns followed up his title-winning 24.6’ jump at the John Tierney Classic with a 23.5’ jump at the Black and Gold Premier which was good for his second long jump title in two weeks.
Head coach Bob Thurnhoffer praised Burns for his early success and said he believes the first-year is only scratching the surface.
“I knew the moment I recruited Eric that he was a next-level guy,” said Thurnhoffer. “He’s doing some very special things that very few freshmen ever do. You look through every competitive conference in America, and it would be hard to find a harder working, more talented [first-year] than Eric.”
The coaching staff and the team’s training strategies has impacted his performance, according to Burns.
“When I came here, the training was vastly different and I had every day broken down to improve on something new and become an overall better jumper,” said Burns. “The coaching staff and Thurnhoffer especially have made me feel really welcomed. I love the team, and it’s great to have guys pushing you to get better and not having to do everything on your own.”
Through his successful transition, Burns now looks to build upon his excellent start and will look to do so when the Ramblers’ season continues at the Meyo Invitational in Notre Dame, Indiana on Feb. 3-4, where Burns will hope to build on his 24.6-foot jump.