Kendall Burgess' high school track & field career was like a 'Shooting Star'. It happened in a flash, but during that brief moment it was brilliant and lit up the sky.
Burgess' star started to glimmer in her early years with a long jump state runner-up finish as an eighth grader and a state third-place finish as a freshmen.
But by the time she reached her sophomore year at Somerset High School, Kendall Burgess' star shined brighter than any other broad jumper in the state. In her sophomore season, Burgess was literally unbeatable at the long jump event.
And it was during that same year that she learned how to triple jump, and she quickly started to dominate that event as well. To round out her track resume, the Notre Dame University signee added the two sprinting events to her repertoire. By the end of her sophomore year, Burgess won state titles in the long jump and the triple jump, and finished state runner-up in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters.
At the peak of her prep career, Burgess looked to repeat her state champion performances her junior year, and perhaps add on a couple of sprinting state titles too.
But that never happened, after her junior track season was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. However, Burgess' star still shined bright that year, but not in front of the large crowds that usually gathered at the University of Kentucky Track Stadium during the KHSAA State Track Championships.
Like most shining stars, Burgess' athletic brilliance could not be extinguished. Burgess continued to work even harder to craft her skill during her junior year and was rewarded with a NSAF AthleticNET Virtual Nationals track championship title in the long jump.
By the time her senior track season rolled around, Kendall Burgess was like a lion released from its cage allowed to roam freely in the wilderness. Again, Burgess was unbeatable in the jumps and started to go distances unheard of in the tradition-rich Lady Jumper track program.
Over the years, the Lady Jumpers track program produced such greats as Carla Coffey, Jill Molden, Sarah Cole and Miranda Mills. After winning, three individual KHSAA state titles on Thursday - raising her career total to five - Burgess firmly placed her name among the top of the Lady Jumpers track legends list.
And while her records will stand for years to come - for future Lady Jumper tracksters to strive for - Kendall Burgess' jumping brilliance illuminated much more than just the 677 square miles of Pulaski County.
On Thursday at the KHSAA Class A Track & Field State Championships, her shining star lit up the entire state.
With the long jump pit located front and center of the University of Kentucky Track Complex, a good portion of Thursday's crowd was transfixed on that small rectangle of white sand each time Burgess took to the air. The large crowd let out a collective 'gasp' each time Burgess landed in the sand pit - well beyond the rest of her competitors' marks.
Even the volunteer long jump pit-raker boys told Burgess 'good jump' after each of her attempts. After all, they had to walk much deeper into the sand pit to clear her lengthy marks.
Amidst long periods of sticky humid weather, Burgess' day on Thursday lasted the entirety of the Class A Track & Field Championships. The long jump was the first event of the morning at 10 a.m., and the triple jump did not conclude until well past 3 p.m. Sandwiched in between preliminary and final rounds of the long jump and triple jump events, Burgess had to journey across the length of the UK Track Complex to run in the 100-meter dash (11:10 a.m.) and the 200-meter dash (1:50 p.m.).
But even more impressive than her long jumps, Kendall Burgess never took her God-given talent for granted. And she always gave praise for her unique talent anytime she was asked about it.
But talent alone did not make Kendall Burgess a great track athlete. A lot of training and refining her technique was involved in her greatness. And at the end of the day, we were all rewarded in viewing the end results of all her hard work and preparation.
Like any shooting star, the brilliance soon fades away into the dark night. And while Kendall Burgess' brilliance will no longer light up the state's high school tracks, her shining star will now light up collegiate Division-I tracks around the nation for the Fighting Irish.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.