NEW HAVEN — Meriden native Briana Burt continues to find her niche in track and field at Southern Connecticut State University.
Coming off Northeast-10 Conference championships last year, the senior sprinter/hurdler out of Maloney has bolted off the blocks to start the winter indoor season. She was named the Northeast-10 Track Athlete of the Week after winning the 55-meter dash and the 55-meter hurdles at the season-opening Elm City Challenge.
Burt didn’t just win the hurdling event. She set a new Elm City Challenge record with a time of 8.12 seconds. She took the 55 dash in 7.22 seconds.
Burt’s individual performances helped the Owls take the meet’s team title, which dovetailed nicely with the senior’s goals for her final college year.
“My expectations for this season are simple: Work hard, run fast and win at big meets,” Burt said. “Ultimately, I want to be the best I can be for myself and the team.”
Burt is in her second year at SCSU after transferring from the University of Hartford, where she initially continued playing both soccer and track, the two sports in which she had excelled at Maloney. She racked up 107 points in soccer as a Spartan and signed off on her scholastic career winning a New England track championship in the hurdles.
Performing two sports in college at the Division I level, though, proved to be another matter.
“At the end of my fall season in sophomore year, I realized that my focus on both sports spread me very thin and didn’t allow me to excel in both track and soccer,” Burt said.
She made the choice to forego soccer. A change in the coaching staff at the University of Hartford helped with the decision. The soccer coaches who had recruited her to Hartford were gone after her sophomore season.
In turn, Burt left for Southern. She also decided to commit to track, the sport in which she was enjoying better collegiate success, having set 60 and 100 hurdling school records at Hartford.
As Southern, Burt pushed the envelope. She won Northeast-10 titles in the 60 hurdles, the 100 hurdles and as a member of the 4x100 relay team. She was All-New England and All-Region in both hurdling events.
“Winning is always a great feeling,” said Burt. “From the beginning of the season, the title of NE-10 champion was always in the back of my head throughout my training. To achieve the goal of that title was an amazing feeling. Being able to compete hard and come out with points for the team is all I ever want to do.”
Fellow senior Adriana Carrasco has noticed Burt stepping up in another area.
“Briana has definitely taken on more of a leadership role now that she’s a senior on the team,” said Carrasco. “She really has no issue speaking up and making announcements to her teammates whenever it’s needed.”
The tacit announcement from the Elm City Challenge was Burt and the Owls could have another strong season brewing this winter. It continues across town this Saturday at the Yale Season Opener.