Slow starts not holding back Cheyenne East's Nadia Burdett

Apr. 17—CHEYENNE — The worst part about a track athlete false starting is losing the chance to compete.

The next-worst is the audible groan of collective sympathy the second shot from the starter's pistol elicits.

"I heard everyone go, 'Aww,' and I just put my hand over my mouth, because I knew it was me," Nadia Burdett said of her false start in the 55-meter hurdles preliminaries at the 2023 Class 4A indoor state meet.

"It was such a bad false start. It was bad. You're ready for your race, and then you can't race. It teaches you a lot. I had to calm myself down and learn how to breathe. I'm better for it."

The Cheyenne East junior is now understandably cautious at the starting line. Burdett is so relaxed in the blocks she is typically the last one out of them and the last athlete to the first hurdle.

Fortunately, her technique and talent have helped her catch up by the fourth hurdle and surge to the lead by the 10th.

Burdett won the 100-meter hurdles and triple jump and placed third in the 100-meter dash at the Greeley Twilight on Friday. She followed that with a runner-up finish in the 100 hurdles at Saturday's Laramie Invite.

Those efforts earned Burdett Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports' Cheyenne staff.

Knowing that the fear of another false start has made her slow out of the blocks has led Burdett to make starts a point of emphasis during practice. She has already matched her season-best from her junior campaign. Burdett's second- and third-best times from this season are already better than her second-best time from last spring.

"You could see that she started improving on starts at the state indoor meet," East hurdles coach Dan Box said. "There are only five hurdles there, and if you're dead last coming out of those blocks, there's no recovering from it.

"She's getting better and more confident and making progress because she's really working at it."

Burdett was state runner-up in the 55 hurdles at this year's state indoor meet. She posted a time of 16.08 in the 100 hurdles at the Okie Blanchard Invitational on April 6. It was encouraging for her because it's getting her closer to dipping into the 15-second range for the first time since she ran a 15.98 as a freshman.

"I know I can get there if I keep getting better out of the blocks," she said. "That is 100% the difference. It's like 0.3 or 0.4 seconds difference. That's a lot."

Burdett also has improved considerably in triple jump. Her mark of 34 feet, 11 1/2 inches in Greeley is her second-best jump outdoors. She smashed her previous personal-best with a 36-6 at the Okie Invite. Burdett won the Greeley title despite injuring her left knee on a scratched opening jump. The injury led her to skip the finals after taking her two final attempts of the prelims. She still won by 1-8.

"That was my first time scratching this season," Burdett said. "I've been really consistent. It made me mad to scratch, but I got through it."

Burdett's triple jump distances this season have led East jumps coach Paul Garcia to focus on fine-tuning each of her three phases in that event.

"She does a really good job of staying in rhythm, staying composed and within herself during the phases of her jumps," Garcia said. "That's allowed her to be successful. We're working on the bounding and other phases.

"Triple jump is very unique. Once you get the feeling of it, get going fast and hit your phases with good foot strike, you can go pretty far."

Burdett has had to learn to deal with comparisons to her older sisters, Faith Burdett and Taliah Morris. Faith Burdett was a soccer standout for East, while Morris has won 11 state track championships and set state records both indoors and outdoors.

Being the younger sibling in a talented family isn't easy, but Nadia Burdett has come to terms with it.

"It used to be hard, especially with Taliah because we're only a grade apart in school, and we used to be so competitive with each other," Burdett said. "The older I've gotten, the more I realized we're different people who do different events. We're happy for each other when we do well.

"... I have to give Taliah and Faith a lot of credit, because they've pushed me to be the best I can be."

Burdett also found value in her false start. She's used those lessons to find success this year.

"I'm kind of glad it happened, because it made me look at things differently," she said. "Life happens. It sucks that it happened, but you can't always succeed; you just have to try your best."

And Burdett's best is proving to often be better than the rest.

Others recognized for their efforts include:

n Alyssa Albaugh, softball, Cheyenne South: The senior was 4-for-7 with a double during the Bison's losses to Cheyenne Central and Wheatland.

n Tayvin Aragon, Madi Birt and Maya Driver, softball, Cheyenne Central: Aragon, a freshman, went 5-for-11 with a triple and an RBI to help the Indians go 1-4 on the week.

Birt, a junior, was 5-of-11 with two doubles and an RBI.

Driver, a sophomore, went 5-for-11 with a double, a triple, a home run and five RBI.

n Brendan Bohlmann, boys soccer, Cheyenne East: The senior scored three goals to help the Thunderbirds pick up wins over Cheyenne South and Laramie. He had both of East's goals during a 2-1 win over visiting Laramie.

n Aleah Brooks and Rylee Stephenson, softball, East: Brooks, a junior, was 5-for-11 at the plate with a double, a home run and four RBI to help the No. 1-ranked Thunderbirds go 2-2.

Stephenson, also a junior, was 7-of-15 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI.

n Gabby Cortez, girls soccer, South: The sophomore goalkeeper posted 19 saves to help the Bison tie Cheyenne East (0-0) and Cheyenne Central (1-1).

n Logan Custis, boys soccer, Central: The senior scored three goals to help the Indians top Laramie and Cheyenne South.

n Trey Downham, boys track and field, South: The junior won the 300-meter hurdles in a school record time of 41.55 seconds at the Burns Invitational. He also cleared 6 feet to win high jump and was part of the winning 4x400 relay team.

n Jessica Hoffman, girls track and field, Pine Bluffs: The junior won discus at the Burns Invitational with a toss of 118 feet, 6 inches. She also cleared 5-2 to take second in high jump.

n Tegan Krause, boys track, Central: The sophomore won the 100- and 200-meter dashes at the Greeley Twilight. He finished the 100 in 11.14 seconds and the 200 in 22.07. He also was part of the winning 4x400 relay quartet.

n Taliah Morris and Bradie Schlabs, girls track and field, East: Morris, a senior, won the 200-meter dash (24.81 seconds) and long jump (19-2 3/4 ) and was on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams at the Greeley Twilight.

Schlabs, also a senior, was on the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams in Greeley, while finishing second in the 300 hurdles (47.40). She won the 100 (13.76) and 200 (28.06) and placed fourth in the 400 (1 minute, 3.20 seconds) at the Laramie Invite on Saturday.

n Ethan Norris, boys track and field, Burns: The senior won the 100-meter hurdles (16.03 seconds) and was second in both the 300 hurdles (42.57) and pole vault (12 feet, 6 inches) at the Burns Invitational.

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.