In rarified company: Northern Michigan University’s Kameron Burmeister comes long way since first taking running seriously in Menominee

Northern Michigan University’s Kameron Burmeister, left, and Michigan Tech’s Deedra Irwin come up on the second lap during the Upper Peninsula College Cross Country Championship at the NMU Golf Course in October 2014. (Journal file photo)

“I didn’t even have running on my radar for college until my senior season.”

— KAMERON BURMEISTER, junior,

NMU track and field and cross country teams

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MARQUETTE — Upper Peninsula native Kameron Burmeister is continuing to prove why she is one of the best NCAA Division II runners in the country.

Two weeks ago at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, the Menominee native and Northern Michigan University junior beat out thousands of runners first to qualify for the meet, then to run to Second Team All-American status, finishing 11th in the 5,000-meter run in 17 minutes, 12.02 seconds.

Northern Michigan University's Kameron Burmeister comes up on the finish line during the U.P. cross country finals outside the Superior Dome in Marquette during September 2015. She finished the race with a time of 14:22.8. (Journal file photo)

“I wanted to be smart and set myself to run as fast as I could,” Burmeister said. “I ran better than I ever thought I could, place-wise. It was exciting to start further in the back and work my way up to 11th.

“I wasn’t anticipating it, and I never thought I could reach this.”

The championships were held in Birmingham, Alabama, and the trip south calmed the 21-year-old from the pressure of the national stage.

“I was more nervous earlier in the week before we left,” Burmeister said. “Once we started traveling and got with the team, it turned into a more fun and exciting experience.

“When we were there for the opening ceremonies and surrounded by the athletes, the atmosphere turned my nerves into excitement. I was thankful to be there and felt ready.

“I had my coach and my dad, who made the trip, to calm me, and since I ran in the evening I had the whole day to grasp it.”

As an athlete in both track and cross country, Burmeister said that her abilities on the day became clear with familiar faces both supporting and competing against her.

“I had to get it into my mind that I had raced good enough to get to that point and I was ready to compete,” Burmeister said. “I had competed against every one of them before in both track and cross country, and I had earned my spot.”

Burmeister has come a long way from her days at Menominee High School, where she was named Runner of the Year at the 2013 Upper Peninsula Championships, and had plans to become a nursing major in college.

But she didn’t always envision all that she would accomplish at NMU.

“I didn’t even have running on my radar for college until my senior season,” Burmeister said. “I reached out to (Northern head coach Jenny Ryan) my junior year, but we couldn’t talk because I was too young.

“When the time was OK and we started communicating, I was hoping to reach top 10 on NMU’s racing team. When I started running, NMU was definitely on my radar.

“All my family graduated from NMU, and the community was very comfortable to me. After meeting Jenny and seeing all the doors opening, I was thinking ‘How could I not go here?’

“I saw a great school to see the sports from the U.P. band together with Yooper support.”

Now in less than three years as a Wildcat, she has added All-American status twice to a resume. She earned that same honor at last fall’s NCAA Division II Cross Country Championships, when she placed 30th.

Her track achievements also include a top-10 finish in the 5,000-meter at the GLIAC Championships as a freshman, and a fifth-place finish in the same race as a sophomore.

Ryan said Burmeister’s All-American status is of a rare class in track and field.

“There are so many teams in the sport across the country,” Ryan said. “Accomplishing what she is doing is not easy to do.

“It’s one of the bigger college sports, with almost every school having a team. Kameron’s not only 11th in our country, but the whole country of 3,000 runners. It’s incredible how well she does against talent from the south, where kids can practice outside all year.”

Now entering outdoor track and field, with another full school year in front of her, Burmeister has her goals in place to finish her time as a Wildcat strongly.

“I’m excited to see what I can do in the 10(-kilometer) because indoor track doesn’t have that,” Burmeister said. “My big goal is to keep my mindset where it is. This whole year and last indoor season was so much fun, and I didn’t get nervous or get pressured up.

“My training plan is written for me to do well, so I have to trust that enjoy racing the best I can and stay myself.”

Raymond Bressette can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is rbressette@miningjournal.net.