Steamboat Springs For four years, Steamboat Springs High School senior Jack Burger has been a real iron man.
While the unassuming Burger — rarely without a smile — doesn’t do so under the bright lights of a football field or inside the bleachers of a gymnasium, his iron-man-esque performances are a testament to his sheer athletic prowess.
For the past four years, Burger has spent his fall running cross-country and playing tennis. It’s not that playing two sports in one year is uncommon. But Burger rarely misses a practice or event in either.
His parents have left him on the side of a highway to meet the tennis team. He’s waited at gas stations after running races to get picked up by the bus to make his next event. His parents have used NASCAR-style driving to get him from running events to tennis matches — though his mom, Darby, insists that a speeding ticket never has been involved.
“I do it because they are both my favorite sports,” Burger said Wednesday before a cross-country workout. “I thought it was going to be more difficult than it has been. Both my coaches have really worked it out for me.”
Maybe even more impressive, Burger isn’t just doing both sports — he’s excelling.
Take Sept. 17. That day Burger ran a personal best 5K of 16 minutes, 51 seconds at the Liberty Bell at Heritage High School in Littleton. He finished 10th out of more than 170 runners.
Tired, Burger hopped into the car with his dad, C.J., and made the trek up to Niwot for a tennis match, where he easily won.
“This is two different sports, and we’re trying to work it out so he can compete in both of them,” Steamboat cross-country coach Andy Reust said. “As you can tell, he’s good at both of them. It’s great both coaches can all work together. I mean, that’s why we’re here is to work for the kids.”
Competing in both sports and rarely missing workouts makes for a busy schedule.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, Burger practices both sports. Tuesday he does tennis, and Thursday he tries to do both, often finishing his cross-country workout at the Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs.
“You wouldn’t know he ever gets tired,” Steamboat assistant tennis coach Don Toy said. “I couldn’t tell. I used to run long distance, and when I was done, I couldn’t move. Jack doesn’t do that.”
With half his fall season done, Burger is in line to possibly do something pretty profound.
At No. 3 singles in tennis, Burger has a chance to medal at the state tournament. In cross-country, barring injury, he’ll qualify for state and have a legitimate shot at the top 10.
For now, Burger is OK with toting around his iron man tag. In a time when sports are consistently becoming more specialized, Burger bucked the trend.
Besides, he loves both, so why not do them at the same time?
“Medaling and finishing in the top 10 — they’re both difficult goals,” he said. “But hopefully I can do that. It would be amazing, and I’ll certainly try.”