Nathan Burns is an exciting addition to the Taylor University men’s cross-country team, as he has exploded into stride taking the number one position on the team and breaking course records. As a talented runner who has dominated throughout high school, what led him to Taylor?
From Mooresville, Indiana, Burns had a fruitful high school career as a runner. Having started his cross-country career in the eighth grade, Burns was immediately noticed as a talented athlete.
Burns impacted his high school team by going to the regional meet his first year and establishing himself as a competitor. However, following his freshman season, the COVID-19 pandemic set in and everyone had to be isolated at home and away from school. This caused Burns to be away from his teammates, friends and coaches, and he was not able to practice, run or compete with them for quite a while.
“It is not enough for me to run successfully; I have to truly enjoy it,” Burns said. “My sophomore year is where I faced the most adversity. I fell out of love with running.”
However, Burns persevered and worked past his disconnection with the sport he quickly fell in love with. All it took was a little bit of competition and faith.
“My junior and senior years are when God became the reason I was running,” Burns said.
Burns set multiple records for Mooresville High School, including the cross-country 5K record, which he beat with a time of 15:42. He also holds the second-best time in school history in both the one and two-mile races for Mooresville Track and Field.
Hence, Burns’s recruiting process began. As an extremely successful and dominant runner, Burns attracted NCAA Division I interest.
“Going into my senior year, I was not considering Taylor,” Burns said. “I had committed to a Division I university.”
However, after his senior season, Burns felt a drive to further his faith and pursue a future where he can do so for others.
He felt a calling and a drive to study ministry, then he visited Taylor and it felt like home.
“When I first came in and talked to Coach (Quinn) White,” Burns said, “the first thing he said was: ‘There are two things about our team: Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, and we work hard every day.’”
To Burns, this stood out and struck home with him. He had been on visits where the coaches talked about their program and their training plans or goals. Never had he had a coach open the visit talking about Jesus.
This was the community Burns was looking for, and it's safe to say he is thriving in it.
In his short tenure at Taylor University thus far, Burns has set the course record for Taylor University’s home course, the TU Cross-Country Farm, by more than 10 seconds. He quickly established himself as the top runner on the team this season.
This does not immediately mean he is a leader on the team, though, as Burns emphasized the amazing leaders the current upperclassmen on the team are.
“Just because I am in the front, doesn’t mean I have everything figured out,” Burns said, “I still look to and rely on the leadership of our seniors and those that have been through this a couple of times.”
The jump from high school athletics to the college level is no minor change.
“Middle school to high school is extremely similar to the high school to college jump,” Burns said.
Think of when you were wrapping up eighth grade and how you stacked up against high school seniors. Now imagine blowing past them in a race and breaking their records.
As for the culture of the team, Burns was ecstatic to relay how much he loved the team’s locker room.
Never has he experienced a team that celebrates their athletic success as well as their faith together like the team at Taylor, Burns said.
“I know that if I run well the team will celebrate with me, if I don’t run well, they will improve with me,” Burns said.
The team’s culture has made it easy for Burns to be himself and run without the burden or fear of underperforming because he knows they will have his back. As for his goals over the next four years, Burns did not shy away.
“Team-wise, we won the national championship in 2020, and we currently have a very young and ranked team,” Burns said. “We want to pursue the top of that podium again.”
As for his personal goals, nothing short of being an All-American will satisfy Nathan Burns.