Austin Bourne, Brandon HS, Junior

       Dear Mississippi MileSplit, 

     My name is Austin Bourne. I am a Junior at Brandon High School. As I enter my fifth year of running cross country and track, I am entering with experience as well as a renewed outlook on the sport. For the longest time, I allowed myself to become entrapped in the snare of comparison. In years past, I would obsessively look over times and places to see how I compared to athletes in my class as well as athletes over the state. This was fueled by a desire to be the best. As I have grown in the sport and personally, I have come to realize that being "the best" isn't the object of what we as athletes should desire. This past track season taught me this lesson in the best way I believe possible: through struggle.

     As I entered my Sophomore track season, I was truly in the best shape of my life. My winter training from November through January was some of the most consistent and quality running ever for me. As track season began, however, pain developed in my lower inside left leg near my shin. Self-diagnosing it as shin splits, I continued to train on the injured leg. Once training became too painful, I consulted a doctor. "Posterior Tibial Tendonitis," was the report by the orthopedic professional. What came next was a six week hiatus from running. During this time, many thoughts and plans went through my mind. At one point I even considered sitting out the season to focus on getting healthy. After the six weeks was up, I began back slow jogging. For about two weeks, my longest run was a 30 minute jog. I was in a completely opposite state than just six short weeks prior. Upon realizing my physical fitness, I decided I was going to sit aside any personal goals and focus solely on helping my team to the best of my ability. 
      My first meet of the season came at the Rankin County Invitational on March 31st. My coach was gracious enough to allow me to run the 4x800m where I surprised myself in running a 2:09 800m leg. Later in the meet, my true fitness my displayed in the 1600m where I could only run 5:10 and I finished near the end of the pack. "Run yourself back into shape," my coach yelled as I entered the last lap of the race. And that is just what we did. The very next week I ran the same events shaving off 2 seconds and 15 seconds in each of the events. My form was just starting to come around as we entered the grueling "playoff races" of district, regionals, south-state, and the big dance: the State Meet. At district, I surprised myself with another 10+ second improvement in the 1600m, an advancement to regionals, and a new PR. As I made it through a "sit and kick" regionals 1600m and a "pure guts race" at South State, I had accomplished a goal that just weeks before seemed impossible. I earned my spot on the line at the 6A State Championship in the 1600m run. Whilst standing on the track at the state meet, I was overjoyed to have simply arrived at the line. Before the gun fired, I thought back on how wild of a ride that season was and I was determined to run my best to finish it off.  Crossing the line in 5th place with a new personal best of 4:40, I knew I had done just that. 
      Undoubtedly, this past track season is one that I will never forget. My first All-State recognition was one earned by taking the long road. As I enter my Junior season, the lessons that I learned over those few months will reside in me in my athletic voyage as well as personally. Throughout that season I learned to look less at what my competitors were doing and to instead focus on becoming my best. Going forward, I will continue to set ambitious goals and seek to conquer great marks, however I have decided to do away with comparison. Competition is something that has the ability to push athletes beyond their capabilities on their own, but comparison on the other hand is a trap that robs one of personal joy. My hope is that any athlete, young or experienced, will read of my tale and decide to do away with comparison and instead focus on conquering his or her own mountains. 
                                               Best Wishes,
                                               Austin Bourne. 
1. In school I am involved in FCA, Beta, National Honor Society, and our sports medicine academy. 
2. Outside of school, I lead worship for my youth group and I am the youth representative in my church. I love to play ultimate frisbee, pick-up basketball, and pretty much anything else with friends. 
3. I have taken the ACT twice. So far, my score is a 24. 
4. My GPA is a 4.0