By Dana Delgado
Although only a sophomore and junior respectively at Liberty Hill High School, Kristin Cox and Brianna Burns are on track to becoming standout throwers in the discus and shot put events.
“Both Kristen and Brianna have tons of potential, and are improving each and every day,” said girls track Coach Gretchen Peterson. “They both got a taste of success last year, and this has only driven them to succeed this year.”
Burns, who twice broke her ACL while playing basketball, is the more reflective of the two and shuns the spotlight, but can get into “the zone” as soon as she steps in the ring to throw. Her strength and height are among her greatest athletic attributes.
While in junior high, Burns rewrote the throwing records only to have them eclipsed the following year by Cox. Both competed on the varsity squad as freshmen. Each has been pushing the other since both compete in the two events. Burns, however, is throwing the discus for the first time this year.
Cox, who says her heart is on the softball diamond as a superb third base player and cleanup batter, has banked on her quickness, strength, and work ethic to garner success in the throwing ring.
The sophomore athlete favors the discus while Burns is partial to the shot. A year ago, the pair advanced in their preferred events. Burns placed fourth at the area meet and finished eight at the regionals while her teammate Cox surprised many, but not herself, with a berth at the area meet as a freshman. She did not place.
“They have both matured and have grown so much as throwers, and are working exceptionally hard,” said Peterson, head coach for the girls track team. “I see the excitement and drive they have for throwing, and we are excited to see what this evolves into.”
This year, both have picked up where they left off. Although early in the track season, they have fared well with solid performances.
At the Liberty Hill Relays, Cox finished fifth in the shot and fourth in the discus while Burns placed second in the shot. At the Bulldog Relays Feb. 28 in Burnet, Burns placed second in the shot with a heave of 39 feet while Cox’ throw of 36 feet 5 inches got her a third place finish.
Neither is fully satisfied as they have set high expectations and fully expect to advance again this season.
“I don’t mind putting in all the hours,” said the sophomore athlete who is splitting time between softball and track as they run concurrently in the spring. “I’m hard on myself and always stay positive. I work and work until I get it right.”
Burns, who is maintaining a straight “A” average in school, says she too is a “perfectionist” in athletics.
Both have enhanced training programs to improve their skills and performance. Cox and Burns are getting private lessons and hope to compete at the Texas Relays, and plan to compete in summer track.
Cox has been active in summer track and last summer placed third in a meet held by Track for Life at Tony Burger Center in Austin. She has teamed up with Carol Finsrud, a former Discus Masters National Champion and seven-time World Masters Discus Champion, for throwing lessons in both discus and the shot.
“To me, every meet is district,” said Cox. “When I step into the ring, I just take a deep breath and think about throwing it far.”
Burns says she has been hitting the weights much more than she used to and has forged a friendship with Kiarra Simpson whom she met at the regionals last year and who is now competing for Arkansas State University.
“She’s been helping me with my technique and encouraging me,” she said. “I just need to go through my technique and relax.”
With success early in their high school athletic careers, pressure to succeed is something both readily welcome.
Brianna is the daughter of James and Shannon Burns while Kristin is the daughter of Dale and Meleia Cox.