Sports Track & Field

Q&A: Triple jumper on recovery path after separate injuries

Despite two separate injuries, senior Tonye’cia Burks has recovered and is back as the top triple jumper for the women’s track & field team. | Peter Scamardo/The Cougar

In an outstanding career year, senior Tonye’cia Burks broke the indoor — 12.99m — and outdoor — 13.53m — school triple jump records in 2017, something she accomplished in consecutive meets. She was on the path to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, but a hamstring injury at the American Athletic Conference Championships derailed those aspirations.

Burks recovered over the summer, but she was again derailed after a second injury during the indoor season. Even still, she is back, healthy and No. 21 in the NCAA West Region with a triple jump mark of 12.76m.

The Cougar: Given the season you were having last year, how devastating was the injury you suffered at conference?

Burks: It was very devastating. It was a mental toll. Something that I had never experienced before and I never thought I would have to go through. But it really helped me focus on what I have to do and pinpoint the things I needed to pinpoint to get to where I needed to be.

TC: What was the recovery process like?

Burks: Since we were going into the summertime, they gave me time to get my body right and really focus on running correctly.

TC: What did you work on when you started practicing again?

Burks: I actually run wrong, so coach Burrell focused on me putting my feet down and working on my arms. The basic things that were having me overcompensate for my hamstring.

TC: You then suffered another injury during the indoor season. What was that?

Burks: My ankle. I was triple jumping one day and landed on a wicket wrong and almost tore a ligament in my ankle. So I was out for two months, and that was just a heartbreaker.

TC: Was there anything you had to do with that in terms of recovery?

Burks: That was the hardest recovery I’ve ever been through since it was my ankle, and I triple jump. I went from practicing every day, just normal routine, to not practicing and being in rehab for three to four hours with the staff. They really helped me get past the mental barrier, but I’m only just now getting past that.

TC: Have you faced any difficulties coming back on the team?

Burks: I feel like I’m getting back to the groove. Even thinking about (my ankle) plays with my mind, but I know I’m getting back to where I need to be.

TC: What are you hoping to get out of what’s left of the season?

Burks: Just get back to where I ended before I got injured. Hit my top marks again and get past those.

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