Cross country's Burnett ready for next stride: Nationals

White and red graphic with Stephanie Burnett grayscale photo at left depicting her running. Text: Stephanie Burnett NCAA women's cross country national qualifier Lynchburg Hornets

Louisville, Ky. -- If anyone ever says hard work doesn't pay off, point them to Stephanie Burnett.

Tell them to look at her sparkling grade-point average. The extracurricular activity list a mile long. And Saturday, tell them to tune into the 2019 NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championships.

Burnett will represent Lynchburg's women in the 6k race, scheduled for 11:45 a.m., at E.P. "Tom" Sawyer State Park in Louisville, Ky. Max Sparks will represent the Hornets in the men's 8k race an hour prior.

RELATED: 2019 NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships Website

She is the 14th Hornet woman in program history to qualify for cross country nationals, doing so with a fourth-place finish last week at the NCAA South/Southeast Region meet, setting the program's 6k record in the process at 21:40.9.

"I had no idea what pace I was running," Burnett said of the record-breaking race, "so I didn't have any idea that I broke 22 minutes, let alone the school record.

"I just knew that if I wanted to qualify for nationals, I had to run with the top runners in the ODAC. Finishing the race and knowing I accomplished my goal was the best feeling I have had in a long time."

She did both, the latest stride in a career that has been on a positive trajectory since Burnett came to Lynchburg in the fall of 2017 from her hometown of Midlothian, a Richmond suburb.

As a freshman, Burnett ran to a top-25 finish at the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships but did not compete for the Hornets at the regional meet. Last season, she just missed All-ODAC honors, finishing 15th, and was 55th at the region championships. She climbed into the program's all-time top 10 list but remained a role-player behind a standout senior class and Kaitlyn Johnson's run to All-America status, the first in the history of Lynchburg women's cross country.

But with the seniors graduated -- Morgan Watson and Samantha Schreiber left with five All-ODAC and three all-region accolades between them -- and Johnson transferred elsewhere, leadership fell in large part on Burnett.

"Stepping up and helping (lone women's cross country senior) Michela (Cholak) lead the team this year felt natural," she said. "I enjoyed being able to mold our team, which is full of new faces."

The Lynchburg women brought seven new runners into the program -- returning just two of the top five from a season ago -- and still managed to finish second at the ODAC championship meet and sixth at regionals.

A lot of that was thanks to Burnett, whose breakout year helped the Hornets immensely.

"She is the story of development," Lynchburg's head cross country coach Jake Reed said. "She's done everything the right way since she stepped onto our campus, and now it's paying off for her."

A business management major with a GPA over 3.9 and a member of Lynchburg's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, along with several other honor societies and clubs, Burnett is "the perfect example of a student-athlete," Reed lauded.

With those successes -- on the course, track, and in the classroom -- came confidence.

"My plan for the national meet is the same as any race I've had this year," she said, "Go out there, race, and believe in myself."

Her coach, though, has a bit of a different strategy for the national meet; anything can happen on that stage, Reed said, so the goal is to try to stay at the front of the pack to keep a shot at that top-40 finish and an All-American title.

"We're going for broke," Reed said. "The idea is just to go out in that top 40 -- maybe out of your comfort zone a little bit -- and just hang on."

--LYN--

Sat Dec 07
Bast-Cregger Invitational
Roanoke College, Salem, Va.
Sat Dec 07
2:00 PM
East. Mennonite
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Dec 07
4:30 PM
Emory & Henry
vs. Lynchburg
CODE RED Game
Wed Dec 11
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Averett
Fri Dec 20
4:00 PM
Hood
vs. Lynchburg
@ Daytona Beach, Fla. Daytona Beach Shootout
Sat Dec 21
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Marymount (Va.)
@ Daytona Beach, Fla. Daytona Beach Shootout
Wed Jan 01
2:00 PM
William Peace
vs. Lynchburg
Thu Jan 02
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Randolph-Macon
Sat Jan 04
2:00 PM
Va. Wesleyan
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Jan 04
4:30 PM
Johns Hopkins
vs. Lynchburg
View Full Schedule
No events to show.
No Event
Fri Nov 08
Final
87 Lynchburg
78 vs. Albertus Magnus
@ Hood College, Frederick, Md. MMI Tip-Off Tournament
Sat Nov 09
Final
62 Lynchburg
75 at Hood
MMI Tip-Off Championship
Wed Nov 13
Final
88 Lynchburg
68 at N.C. Wesleyan
Sat Nov 16
Final
69 Hampden-Sydney
74 vs. Methodist
@ Lynchburg, Va. Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 1
Sat Nov 16
Final
80 Pfeiffer
91 vs. Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 2
Sun Nov 17
Final
99 Hampden-Sydney
108 vs. Pfeiffer
@ Lynchburg, Va. Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 3
Sun Nov 17
Final
69 Methodist
93 vs. Lynchburg
Wayne Proffitt Classic -- Game 4
Fri Nov 22
Final
84 Lynchburg
88 vs. Mary Washington
@ Newport News, Va. CAC/ODAC Challenge - Game 1
Sat Nov 23
Final
77 Lynchburg
79 at No. 9 Chris. Newport
CAC/ODAC Challenge - Game 4
Sun Dec 01
Final
81 Lynchburg
68 at Bridgewater (Va.)
Wed Dec 04
Final
73 Lynchburg
78 at Ferrum
Sat Dec 07
2:00 PM
East. Mennonite
vs. Lynchburg
Wed Dec 11
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Averett
Wed Jan 01
2:00 PM
William Peace
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Jan 04
2:00 PM
Va. Wesleyan
vs. Lynchburg
Wed Jan 08
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Randolph
Wed Jan 15
7:30 PM
Hampden-Sydney
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Jan 18
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Emory & Henry
Wed Jan 22
7:00 PM
Ferrum
vs. Lynchburg
Coaches vs. Cancer Week
View Full Schedule
Sun Nov 10
Final
60 Meredith
81 vs. Lynchburg
Tue Nov 12
Final
39 Lynchburg
70 at Averett
Fri Nov 15
Final
39 Lynchburg
52 at Emory
Emory Holiday Inn Tip Off Classic (Game Played at Agnes Scott)
Sat Nov 16
Final
64 Colorado Col.
76 vs. Lynchburg
@ Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Ga. Emory Holiday Inn Tip Off Classic
Wed Nov 20
Final
73 Lynchburg
60 at Hollins
Mon Nov 25
Final
61 East. Mennonite
82 vs. Lynchburg
Wed Dec 04
Final
58 Lynchburg
49 at Randolph
Sat Dec 07
4:30 PM
Emory & Henry
vs. Lynchburg
CODE RED Game
Fri Dec 20
4:00 PM
Hood
vs. Lynchburg
@ Daytona Beach, Fla. Daytona Beach Shootout
Sat Dec 21
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Marymount (Va.)
@ Daytona Beach, Fla. Daytona Beach Shootout
Thu Jan 02
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Randolph-Macon
Sat Jan 04
4:30 PM
Johns Hopkins
vs. Lynchburg
Tue Jan 07
7:00 PM
Guilford
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Jan 11
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Shenandoah
Wed Jan 15
5:00 PM
Washington and Lee
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Jan 18
2:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Va. Wesleyan
Wed Jan 22
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Ferrum
No Event
No Event
No Event
View Full Schedule
No events to show.
No events to show.
No Event
No Event
Wed Oct 16
Final
0 Lynchburg
4 at No. 6 Washington and Lee
Sat Oct 19
Final
1 East. Mennonite
3 vs. Lynchburg
Homecoming
Wed Oct 23
Final
1 Shenandoah
4 vs. Lynchburg
Sat Oct 26
Final
3 Lynchburg
1 at Va. Wesleyan
Tue Oct 29
Final - OT
0 Guilford
1 vs. Lynchburg
Senior Night
Sun Nov 03
Final
0 Randolph-Macon
2 vs. Lynchburg
Match 3 - ODAC Quarterfinal
Fri Nov 08
Final - PK Away
2 Lynchburg
2 at Hampden-Sydney
Match 6 - ODAC Semifinal
Sat Nov 09
Final
0 Lynchburg
1 vs. No. 11 Washington and Lee
@ Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden Sydney, Va. Match 8 - ODAC Championship
View Full Schedule
No Event
No Event
Wed Oct 16
Final
0 Sweet Briar
9 vs. Lynchburg
Sat Oct 19
Final
2 Roanoke
1 vs. Lynchburg
Homecoming
Thu Oct 24
Final
3 Lynchburg
4 at No. 15 Randolph-Macon
Moved from Oct. 23
Sun Oct 27
Final
1 Lynchburg
2 at Shenandoah
Wed Oct 30
Final
2 Lynchburg
1 at Guilford
Sat Nov 02
Final - OT
2 Va. Wesleyan
1 vs. Lynchburg
Senior Night | CODE RED Match
Mon Nov 04
Final
0 East. Mennonite
4 vs. Lynchburg
Match 1 - ODAC First Round
Wed Nov 06
Final
1 Lynchburg
4 at No. 14 Randolph-Macon
Match 2 - ODAC Quarterfinals
View Full Schedule