* Grapevine's Adam Burlison earned his first Texas State state on Friday in Austin
Photo Credit: Chris Langford/Texas MileSplit
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By Cory Mull - MileSplit
AUSTIN, Tx. -- Months before Adam Burlison would step to the line in the Class 5A 3,200m final at the Texas State Outdoor Track and Field Championships, he received a sign that his junior season was headed for history.
Back in March, in fact, it came on the very track he was standing on Friday.
In a moment that captured his imagination and pushed him further than he had ever dreamed, Burlison dropped a career-best 3:53 in the 1,500m at the Longhorn Invitational, finishing second among a collegiate field.
"That was the turning point for me this season," Burlison said after winning his state race on Friday at Mike Myers Stadium in dramatic fashion. "When I went 3:53 and beat a couple college guys, I took second and I said to myself, 'I can do this.'"
From that point forward, Burlison knew that every single result would prepare him for the final meet on his Texas calendar. So as he surged, backed off and then made one final move on McAllen Memorial's Ayden Granados in the Class 5A final on Friday, he knew all of it had been for something when he crossed the line in 8:54.47, which was a new classification record and staved off Granados' 8:57.28.
The pair ran better than any athlete in the class's history, with both running under the former record of 8:58.86, which was last set by Carter Blunt in 2016.
But it was Burlison who let Granados make an early move in the final laps, and then it was Burlison who then offered one final chess play over the final 200 meters, moving to the outside as he made his winning attempt.
"Going in, I talked a little bit with my coach and he told me, 'You can clip off 67s. You can do that,'" said Burlison, whose 1,500m earlier in the season roughly converted to a 4:10 1,600m. "So, going in, I said, 'OK, people are going to try and go out fast. If I wait a little bit that first lap and then take over and then just shut off my mind and go to work,' that's what I did. At the end of the day, I knew I could do it. I tried to go to work."
Burlison saved his best for the bell lap, dropping his fastest effort on the final quarter as he hit 58.31 on the split. Granados tried to hold the Grapevine athlete off as long as he could, but he fell to second for the second straight year.
"When Ayden took over with two laps to go, he picked it up in that seventh lap," Burlison said. "And that separated us from the rest of the pack. And then, going into that last lap, I was like, 'OK, he's going to push real hard soon, just be ready and come back with a move of your own.'"
A chaotic finish followed, with Montgomery Lake Creek's Carter Gordy falling meters before the line. He crawled to the finish in fourth.
Seconds later, San Antonio Jefferson's Henok Hagos stepped off the track before he crossed the finish line. He realized his mistake and then stepped back on and crossed the line in seventh. No athlete was disqualified from the race.
Friday marked the first time Burlison had won a Texas state title after a transfer to Grapevine in the offseason from west Texas. Last year, he said, he ran for Lubbock Coronado and as a freshman he competed for Lubbock.
His move to the MetroPlex, he said, was prompted by his mom's move to the Dallas-area.
But Burlison's rise through the distance ranks in Texas has been coming. This also wasn't his first matchup with Granados.
The pair had actually tussled in March -- roughly 10 days before the Longhorn Invite -- at Southlake Carroll, with the McAllen star out-kicking him in the 5K at the Texas Distance Festival by two tenths of a second. Granados finished in 14:28.21, while Burlison followed in 14:28.40.
With the bell lap ringing on Friday, Granados shook out his arms like a boxer readying for a barrage of punches.
"These past two weeks, I've told myself, 'It's going to come down to me and him. It's going to come down to who wants it more, really, and who has the best kick right now,'' Burlison said. ''It was definitely a fight."
What Granados perhaps didn't know, though, was that Burlison had run the 400m in practice at Lubbock Coronado and had split 49 to 50 seconds, or that he had featured on the team's 4x400 last year.
With his move to Dallas came a greater focus on the distance events.
But the first-year Grapevine athlete had some legit leg speed.
"Are you happy with your 58 second last 400 meter split?" we asked.
"I'm ecstatic about that," he said. "Yes sir."
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