Cross country standout Addie Burleigh having busy summer

During the summer between her junior and senior years, Addie Burleigh is keeping busy, and not just with cross country.

Last weekend, the defending 1A state champion from Catholic High Pointe Coupee took part in Girls State of Louisiana, a program for gifted students that want to get a firsthand look at how the government works.

“They pick a handful of students in good standing, (and) we learn a lot about the government and have elections and stuff,” said Burleigh who will stay busy at the Gulf Sate Running Camp this weekend. “It was really interesting and I had a great time with it.”

Burleigh has proven to be a well-rounded student-athlete. In addition to her work with Girls State, Burleigh is a member of the Glee Club, Beta Club, Key Club and is a student manager on the CHSPC basketball team. Despite all of that, she maintains an “A” average in her classes.

But what she may best be known for is her three-mile time of 12 minutes, 18.46 seconds (12:18.46) that won her the individual state title and helped propel the Hornets to their first team state championship in cross country.

“I was pretty nervous going into that meet, to be honest,” Burleigh recalled. “I really didn’t know what to expect, and then as the race went on, I realized I was doing really well. It didn’t really hit me that I won when I finished.”

With the state title in tow, Burleigh was named to the West Baton Rouge All-Metro team in January to cap a breakout season. It was an eye-opener for her coach, Jason Chauvin, who knew she had the talent but needed to add a killer instinct when running.

“Addie is such a good-hearted kid,” said Chauvin, who was named the All-Metro Coach of the Year. “She was always good for her age, but she is just an extremely nice girl that wants everyone to be happy. She had to learn to be a competitor on the course.”

Before 2012, Burleigh enjoyed running but admitted the difference between coming in first and second was not a high priority to her.

That was evident in the 2011 Brother Martin Invitational when Burleigh opted to cross the finish line at the same time and holding hands with McGehee’s Morgan Martin, despite Burleigh leading for most of the race.

It was quite a sight to behold for Chauvin.

“She (Burleigh) was in first the entire time,” Chauvin said. “Then, with about 200 yards left, I see them holding hands. I’m start screaming, ‘What are you doing?’ And she said, ‘No it’s OK, we’re friends.’ ”

As it turns out, Martin reached the finish line two-tenths of a second before Burleigh, giving her the first-place finish. Burleigh had to settle for second.

“I made sure to be a lot more confident and started to push my abilities after that,” said Burleigh, who can now laugh about the second-place finish. “I’m not very naturally competitive and I kind of went out there with not much of purpose. It was a cross country meet and I just wanted to run.

“I realized that if I’m going to do something, I have to do it a hundred percent.”

Although she did develop somewhat of a competitive edge entering her junior season, Burleigh’s run for the state title was not selfish by any means.

Rather, she wanted to make sure seniors Meredith Witty and Erin Jewell left CHSPC as champions.

For that to happen, Burleigh had to at least finish fifth in the three-mile run.

“They have been doing this for a long time, so I wanted to make them happy,” Burleigh said of the two seniors. “The fact that we had a chance to win the team title before I ran, I was really excited about that. It was so much more important for me to just finish fifth and our team finish first than me finish first and our team finish fifth.”

Now a senior herself, Burleigh has a couple of more goals on her high school checklist.

One is to defend the Hornets’ championship, and the other is to mentor her younger teammates and ensure that she leaves the CHSPC cross country program better than she found it.

“I’m so excited about what they can accomplish, and I want to help them,” she said. “I’ve told my coach that if I found out that they beat my records, I will be so happy.”