Burmeister ends with a bang

NMU senior caps off career with multiple accolades

Up front, Northern Michigan University's Kameron Burmeister competes during the Upper Peninsula Championships at the NMU Golf Course in 2014. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Kameron Burmeister started her collegiate career at Northern Michigan University with some modest goals.

Now that her career has come to a close, it’s pretty clear that she went above and beyond her own expectations.

The Menominee native now has multiple awards including five All-American awards in cross country and track and field, three of which came this past season. When asked how it feels to accomplish so much over a career, even Burmeister seems surprised with what she’s done.

You could definitely make the case for that as the Menominee native has racked up several accolades, three of which came this past season.

“Honestly, it’s pretty crazy,” she said. “Just thinking about having two All-American awards, one indoor and one outdoor, it’s pretty amazing. Going into my collegiate running career, I think my top goal was to just be the top 10 runners in cross country so I could compete at the conference meet. Maybe in track, I wanted to break 19 minutes in my 5K. The fact that I have earned two All-Americans in this track season and five altogether and the times that I ran this year, it’s amazing that I have been molded into the athlete I’ve become and it’s all thanks to my coaching staff and my teammates.”

Some athletes when they get awards, treat them as if they’re just another honor, but to Burmeister, each of her All-American awards means something to her.

“I think each one is as equally exciting, especially in track just because it’s difficult to make it to nationals in any sport, but especially in track when you’re competing against every single distance runner in the nation in Division II,” she said. “Even getting to nationals is a really big feat and then to become an all-American, it’s just even better. I went into my 10K seeded 13th so to come in ninth place in such a strong field was exciting in itself and having it be an all-American spot, that just as exciting.”

Running a 10K can be grueling for just about anybody and it can be difficult to stay focused during that time, but Burmeister said her experience and a pre-race plan helped keep her on the right pace.

“I have run against some of the same competitors my whole four years in the 10K and we’ve become pretty close friends,” she said.

“One of the girls from Grand Valley who is also a senior, contacted me before the race and we decided that we were going to run it together, just work with one another and run a smart race. So it really helped having her there and focusing on helping her throughout the race and focusing on staying with her really helped occupy my mind during those laps. Being in such an exciting field with such amazing athletes, it’s just fun to see what you’re able to do. Toward the end of the race, I just tried to stick with that top half and see what I could do in those last few laps. I was able to stick with them and pass some people and get myself into ninth, which was pretty exciting.”

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Burmeister’s career is that she didn’t enjoy running growing up and she definitely didn’t expect to do it this long, but she feels like over time, she’s grown as an athlete, and now running is an important part of her life.

“I didn’t really grow up liking running at all,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be a distance runner because it is very difficult and it’s so time-consuming with the training and everything that goes into it. I’ve learned a lot through distance running and I learned a lot about myself through this sport. I’ve learned how tough I can be and how strong I can be and my faith has also grown so much. Now I think that is what gets me so excited about running. Every time I show up to that line to race, it’s a chance for me to prove myself and a chance to be tougher, faster and stronger than I’ve ever been and it just excites me every time. Distance running has been so important in my life, not only because of the accolades I’ve received, but of all the lessons I’ve learned continuously through running.”

Burmeister may have learned a lot and grown as a person, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t sad that her college career came to an end a couple of weeks ago.

“I think the day between each race (at NCAA Championships), everything kind of set in,” she said. “That Saturday was going to be my last day as a Wildcat and there was definitely a moment of sadness from that evening, but I just really picked myself up and realized that I’ve been so blessed the past four years with amazing experiences and unimaginable opportunities that my coach has given me. Instead of being sad, I have to look back on the past four years and be proud of what I accomplished. Then just look to the future for the next thing I’m going to undertake.”

The next thing that she’ll undertake is graduate school to become a nurse practitioner, but Burmeister says that she’s not putting her shoes away yet. She plans on running a marathon in Milwaukee this fall and says that qualifying for the Boston Marathon at the race would be “awesome.”

With all of her awards and her achievements, one could make the case that Burmeister is the best runner to compete at NMU and she said if she were called that, it’d be an honor.

“Honestly, it’s kind of unbelievable,” she said.

“Just looking at the list of accolades I’ve received, it’s crazy to me. If somebody were to call me that, I’d be very honored. I’m just very thankful that I have been placed on this path.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.