Riley Burger soars in triple jump in first year in event

You never know how good you're going to be until you try.

"I never really thought about jumping, in particular," Notre Dame freshman Riley Burger shrugged. "I guess, I've always just thought about running."

For Riley, she always planned on being a softball player.

"Coach U asked me to come out and long jump with his PE class," she said with a grin. "I didn't do too bad and I started at practice the next two weeks or so."

What happened next, took everyone by surprise, especially the coaches and her family.

"I figured she was going to be strong with it," jump coach Ryan Long said.

Strong is an understatement. Riley topped the 40 foot mark at districts and is the only girl in Missouri to jump that far this season.

Her mom couldn't be more proud.

"She's done gymnastics since she was young and it just kind of went from there," Karen Burger said. "She started playing sports and track just kind of happened."

Adds Coach Long, "It's only been a month and a half that she's been doing it."

So how has Riley done so quickly what countless others could only dream of? According to her coach, its hard work and natural ability.

"She picks up on things real fast, and its like I keep saying," Coach Long grins. " Keep it simple. She doesn't need it difficult, she does it natural."

Riley just shrugs when asked how she does what she does.

"I just try to do my best, really," she said. "Coach Long has helped tremendously, actually."

Adds her mom, " She came home and said, I'm going to run track til softball starts and I'm like ok... and then we're at state."

In that month and a half, Riley won districts, sectionals and took the Class 4 Missouri State championship in triple jump.

So what's next? According to her mom, breaking more records.

"Her next goal is to break the state record, "Karen said. "40 feet and 9 and 1/4 inches. She wants to top that."

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