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CREVE COEUR — Alicia Burnett left a trail of bruised egos across the end zone.

As a 7-year-old, Burnett was at a youth football game with her father, Dell, who was a coach. He was standing near the field when two boys got to talking to each other about who was faster. Dell chuckled to himself as they talked and eventually decided to weigh in.

“My daughter is fast,” he told them.

Burnett had never run on a track team, never been to a practice. Dell figured she'd give them a good test.

He lined up one of the boys with her on the sideline of the end zone. First one to the other sideline wins.

Burnett won that race. Then that boy got his friend to race her. She won that one, too.

Then the next one.

And the one after that.

“Then there was a lot of them coming to me and we were racing,” Burnett said. “I beat them all.”

Now 17, Burnett recently completed her junior year at Parkway North. Over the last decade she's grown into one of the most overpowering sprinters in Missouri. The 5-foot-3 dynamo is unbeaten in a final of the 100-, 200- or 400-meter dashes as a high school athlete. At the Class 4 state meet May 25 at Washington High, Burnett cemented her place as an all-time standout when she won the 100 in an all-class state record time of 11.58 seconds to break the old mark of 11.64 set by Grandview-KC's Anglerne Annelus in 2015.

Burnett won the 200 in 24.38 seconds and was crucial to the Vikings as they won state titles in the 800 and 1,600 relays. Because of Burnett's contributions, Parkway North scored enough points to claim the Class 4 state championship, the first in school history.

It's why Burnett is the Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls track and field athlete of the year.

As good as Burnett was at the state meet this year, she was even better at the sectional. It was during that meet, with no preliminary races, she showed a glimmer of what's possible. She won the 100 that afternoon in 11.58 seconds, which would be the fastest time in the event in the state this spring. She matched it at the state mee,t which is where official state records must be set. However, it's the fourth-best 100 on Burnett's resume.

She went an eye-popping 11.47 in the event at the sectional meet as a freshman at Fort Zumwalt South. In the district meet that season she went 11.51 and at state, where she swept the Class 4 100, 200 and 400 championships, she won in a wind-aided 11.55.

This season Burnett rolled to victory at the sectional in a personal-best time of 23.46 seconds. It's the fastest 200 in the state this season and the second-fastest time on record by a Missouri high school athlete according to MileSplit.

The only person to run faster was Annelus whose best time was 23.3 at the United States Track and Field National Junior Outdoor Championships in 2015. Annelus now competes for USC and was the 2018 NCAA champion in the 200.

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Parkway North junior Alicia Burnett is the Post-Dispatch All-Metro girls track and field athlete of the year. Burnett led the Vikings to their first team state championship by blazing to the 100- and 200-meter titles and was part of two winning relays in Class 4. Randy Kemp | Special to STLhighschoolsports.com

Burnett believe she can go lower. As a freshman she entered the spring high school season after an intense fall and winter of training. She had dabbled in basketball as a youth but is a track athlete year round. 

This spring season began and Burnett didn't feel her offseason work was quite where she wanted it.

“Freshman year was different. I was doing all the stuff,” Burnett said. “Running indoor, running at meets. Extra practices and stuff like that. Junior year I only went to indoor practice so I wasn't in the best of shape.”

In spite of that, Burnett opened her own eyes to what is possible as she became stronger during the spring.

“The times I ran this season, if I actually had extra training it was shocking to me what times I can run,” she said.

Burnett is hungry to find out. That hunger, Dell said, is something he wanted to see after his daughter's freshman year. Burnett transferred to Parkway North from Zumwalt South before her sophomore year and was ruled ineligible to compete by the Missouri State High School Activities Association. The freshman sensation had to sit as a sophomore. Instead of stewing on what was lost, Burnett made the best of it.

“That was a nice little break,” Dell said. “We knew she was hungry for it.”

Last summer Burnett won the 15-16 age division at the AAU Junior Olympics national championship in the 100 in 11.71 seconds. It was the third consecutive year she won her age group at the Junior Olympics.

When she returned to high school track this spring, it felt different. Burnett is close with her teammates, especially the seniors. For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, Parkway North had a group that could do some special things on the track.

“This year meant a lot,” Burnett said. “I was going to try my best and whatever falls through would happen. The senior girls, I've known them since I was little. That pushed me more.”

It made Burnett do things she hadn't done in a long time — like run a 400.

Burnett didn't compete in an open 400 this spring. The last time she ran one during the high school season was at the state meet her freshman year. So when it was time to close down this year's state championship meet with the 1,600 relay, Burnett wasn't sure how she'd handle one full lap. She assumed her body wouldn't like it.

“The 400 gives me nerves,” Burnett said. “I knew my body would go numb.”

Making things tougher was Burnett, running the third of four legs, received the baton in eighth place.

Dead last. 

One of Burnett's favorite parts of the sport is hawking people down. She ended her junior season doing just that as she picked off opposing runners on her way around the track.

"That was a first," Burnett said. "I was focused on getting the stick to Reina."

Burnett's split was 55.73 seconds. When she passed the stick to anchor Reina McMillan, the Vikings were in second place. McMillan chased down the leader and won the race.

Burnett never saw it. She was sprawled on the turf trying to feel something other than the fire that engulfed the lower half of her body.

“I was pouring water all over my legs. I had to cool my legs down because they were burning after that 400,” Burnett said. “I couldn't even say 'Good job, Reina,' I couldn't even talk.”

It was the perfect end to an incredible season, one Burnett has cherished. To be able to help her friends end their careers with something they'll never forget was important to Burnett. She didn't take it lightly. 

“We're all family. The girls I'm really close to they're like my sisters for real,” Burnett said. “Most of them are leaving so it was kind of emotional as well. It meant a lot to me and to be a part of it was big.”

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