The University of Rhode Island men’s track and field team started their indoor season at an exceptional rate with two first place finishes, as well as individual success across the board especially from emerging star, junior jumper Casey Burley.
The Warwick, New York native is off to an unbelievable start to his junior year indoor season with two consecutive weeks of earning Atlantic 10 Conference Athlete of the Week honors. This is the first time a male URI track and field athlete has done so during indoor competition since Ashhad Agyapong won the award in consecutive weeks in 2005.
Burley earned the accolades following his performances at the URI-hosted Sorlien Memorial Invitational on Jan. 21, where he won the long jump at 7.27 meters (23 feet, 10.25 inches), and the triple jump 14.98 meters (49 feet, 1.75 inches). With his score in the long jump, Burley set the bar for the whole A-10 by topping his previous conference-leading long jump from the Beantown Challenge, in which URI placed first out of nine on Jan. 14. Burley’s triple jump was good for second best in the conference and sixth best in URI men’s track and field history.
“I’ve really improved on my form and ability to start off with my opposite foot,” Burley said. “This is a difficult change to get used to, especially since my form was different when I was younger. It has made a huge difference since I have made the change, and I hope to continue improving it.”
The first A-10 performer of the week honor Burley earned was due to his showing at Harvard University’s Beantown Challenge. In that invitational, he won the long jump with the tenth longest triple jump in program history.
“Going back-to-back for conference performer of the week feels amazing,” Burley said. “The hard work has really paid off. Knowing that I am a part of this program’s great history is truly an honor.”
Even with all of his indoor success this season, Burley believes that his best jumping is done during outdoor competition where he has also excelled over his three years at URI. In the 2015-2016 outdoor season, he won the long jump on two separate occasions. Burley finished first at the New England Championships (7.42m), and earned his personal best at an outdoor event at the UConn Northeast Challenge (7.40m).
“Honestly I believe I am better at jumping outdoors compared to indoors, because I enjoy competing in warmer weather,” Burley said. “Also the wind sometimes gives me some help when I am making my jumps, so I think the weather outside definitely factors into my outdoor performances.”
Coming out of high school Burley was a sought after track and field athlete ,receiving looks from Penn State University, SUNY-Cortland, and the University of Albany. Burley knew from the point he chose URI that he wanted to put his name into the track program’s history books.
“Choosing URI over other schools really came down to the coach,” Burley said. “I really like Coach (John) Copeland and we have a great relationship. I also chose URI for the their great track program history, academics and location.”
Burley looks to continue his great individual success this year while also helping to do his part in securing more first place finishes for his team. Burley and the rest of the men’s track and field team will compete in his home state of New York next at the Armory Track Invitational, Feb. 3-4.
“I am really happy with my individual performances this season, but I know I can continue to improve each and every day,” Burley said. “As a team, I think we have had a great amount of success this year with two overall first place finishes to start the indoor season. I am excited to see what we can accomplish the rest of the way.”