Leader Blues

Friday, May 30, 2008

SPORTS>> Burks trying to chase down dad

Leader sports editor

Dad’s record is safe for one more year.

That’s 37 and counting.

Steve Burks set — and has held on to — the record for most points by a Cabot decathlete back in 1971, when he totaled 8,158 in winning the event.

His son Drew Burks has taken a shot at it the past two years, and no one would have been happier to see Steve’s record eclipsed than Dad himself.

“I told him, ‘Thirty-seven years on the board is just too long. You need to break that,’” Steve told his son before the 48th running of the decathlon on Wednesday at Panther Stadium in Cabot.

Though Burks didn’t break his father’s record — nor win the event — he met most of his goals this week, finishing eighth overall and posting personal bests in four of the 10 competitions.

“We are hoping for a top 10 finish,” said his high school coach, Leon White, as Burks prepared for the day’s final two events on Thursday. “So far, he’s done better in all his events than last year.”

In fact, Burks improved in all 10 events, beating his 2007 long jump by more than a foot, his high jump by six inches, his discus throw by 12 feet, his pole vault by a foot, and shaving five seconds off his 400-meters time.

That’s what had his father Steve most proud.

“Every event, he was better than what he did last year,” he said. “I was pleased with that.”

Teammate Jared Santiago also met his goal of a top 25 finish, White said. Santiago finished in 25th place after a 35th –place finish a year ago.

Burks, whose finished 19th last year, runs the hurdles and competes in the triple jump, discus and high jump during the regular track season. He posted personal bests in the shot, the discus, the pole vault and the high jump.

In posting his school-record total in 1971, Steve Burks said he scored 1,000 points out of the high jump — his specialty — and the triple jump, and nearly reached 1,000 in the quarter mile.

Drew’s first love is baseball, and he missed several track events during the regular season to play for the Cabot Panthers.

“He’s good in everything,” White said. “His dream is to play pro baseball. I think the decathlon is something he got interested in because of his daddy. He’s a good kid and he works at everything.”
Just a junior, Burks plans on taking another shot at Dad’s record again next year.

“It’s always fun,” he said. “It’s not even like competition, really. You just have to race against the clock and do your best. You’re competing against yourself.”

Michael Tibbs of Rogers won the event on Thursday by more than 600 points. But his total of 8,065 would have been good for only second place in 1971.