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Track and Field

College Signing: Notre Dame track star Riley Burger inks with Louisville

Cape Notre Dame only has one four-time state champion throughout all of its athletic programs in school history, and that is none other than senior Riley Burger.

Burger is a three-sport athlete as she plays softball in the fall, basketball in the winter and finally her top sport track and field in the spring. She is a three-time Class 4 State Champion triple jumper and won the state championship in long jump last season.

Burger still has one year of track left at Notre Dame, but months before it begins she decided to sign her national letter of intent and continue her career in college at the University of Louisville.

“[Signing with Louisville] meant a lot,” Burger said. “For one it calms me down a little bit — it’s less stressful to know like, ‘This is where I’m going. This is my plan.’ To know I can compete at a caliber program like the University of Louisville is a good feeling and it’s exciting.”

Burger will not be alone at Louisville since former Bulldog and teammate Carly Pujol signed with the Cardinals last year.

“My visit [to Louisville] was great,” Burger said. “I knew Carly, and everybody welcomed me. Just knowing Carly is there is really cool because we actually did gymnastics together when we were really young. Now we’re going to be teammates again at Louisville, so it’s a really cool thing for us.”

Burger had many other colleges across the nation recruiting her, and she visited one other school, but once she visited Louisville, she knew it was the school for her.

Burger did not know she wanted to be a jumper for the track and field team when she first started attending Notre Dame, but after breaking the school’s long jump record barefoot during a senior physical education course as a freshman, the decision was basically made for herself.

On top of four state championships, Burger also holds the school record in triple jump [41 feet, three inches] and long jump [19 feet, 7.5 inches]. Burger was also only 3.1 inches shy of winning the state high jump event last season, so now she’s hoping to achieve the triple crown in her final year by winning all three events.

Burger commits most of her time in the offseason to training for track and is a member of Project Triple Jump, where Burger and other jumpers train with athletes around the world like 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kenny Harrison.

“I definitely want to improve on some technique because I’m struggling in a couple of areas, but I know Coach [Ryan] Long is going to help me a lot with that,” Burger said. “When I get to Louisville, Coach [Jeff] Petersmeyer is going to help me so much. I just know that it’s going to be hopefully a great time, and hopefully everything works out great.”

Burger and Pujol helped lead Notre Dame’s girls track and field team to its highest finish at the Class 4 State Meet in school history as the Bulldogs took fifth overall with a score of 37. Pujol was a state champion in her own right before signing with Louisville by winning the pole vault event in 2018.

Burger helped lead Notre Dame’s softball team to back-to-back Class 3 Final Four appearances in 2016 and 2017. She also finished her career as a two-time all-state selection and holds the school record for most runs [56] and stolen bases [44].

Burger also led the Notre Dame girls basketball team to win its first Class 4 District 1 Championship since 2010 as she recorded 8.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.3 assists per game as a junior.

“It’s not that hard to balance [each sport] since I’ve done this for so long,” Burger said. “I was in gymnastics for 11 years, so I was doing 16 to 20 hours a week as an 8, 9, 10 and 11-year-old. Even in grade school I was doing stuff like this all year round.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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