Wolverine Athlete Spotlight: Stephen Burk
Stephen Burk

April 17, 2014

Kentucky Relays Preview

Sophomore Stephen Burk discusses how he got involved with the javelin, how he's able to stay focused during the indoor season when he's not competing, and shares his goals for the remainder of the season.

On training during the indoor season since he only competes outdoor ... "Sometimes it's hard to stay focused day in and day out. I remember at the beginning of the year, one of the guys asked coach Clayton what he thinks is one of the most important things to have success throughout the year, and coach said consistency. I just try to keep that in mind. It's hard when you're not competing and you have to keep the big picture in mind to stay focused. It's easy to have a good day or a good week, but to do it year-round is where the results really come, and that's something I've been really focusing on."

On his mentality when he finally gets to compete outdoor ... "I wouldn't say it's pressure -- I'd say it's excitement. I'm very excited to get out there and have my work pay off and see what I can do after so many months of training."

On how he got involved in throwing the javelin ... "I'm from New Jersey originally and not every state has high school javelin, but New Jersey was one of the states that did. I played pretty much every sport growing up as a kid. I played lacrosse in middle school, which is a spring sport, but my high school town was one of the few in New Jersey that didn't have a high school lacrosse team. I also played football my freshman year and the track coach was also one of the football coaches so he asked me to come out and give it a try, and I liked it from there."

On the differences in training with coach Clayton ... "We've definitely put in a lot of new things and a lot of new volume with medicine balls and things like that ,which we did last year, but I think it's been very beneficial this year. Also, I'd say a big aspect in the changes this year with coach Clayton is just everyone in the locker room in general -- everyone is a lot more dedicated and a lot more focused."

On starting off the outdoor season with a big PR ... " I always to my best when I'm calm and focused. Track in general, regardless of your event, is a pretty technical sport, and if you try to get too amped up and chase numbers, it's hard to do what you need to do. For the Florida meet, it was the first meet of the year and you don't have very high expectations -- you just want to get back into the swing of competing. I think I was just so relaxed and focused on working on what we've been doing in training, and I need to continue doing that and trusting my training and technique. Looking forward, I'd like to medal and place at Big Tens. I think that's a realistic goal to achieve as long as I keep doing my part."

On what he wants to accomplish at Kentucky this Saturday ... "Kentucky has a very good javelin thrower and I think there are a couple other schools that have good javelin throwers there so it will be nice to have some guys who are statistically better than me, at least for the time being, and to have them push me in that competition setting that the Big Ten offers. There are a lot of good javelin throwers in the Big Ten as well so I think this will be a good practice meet to get some competition and not just try to put one out there for myself like I have in past meets."

On having other javelin throwers to train with this year ... "It's really nice to have a training partner unlike last year where I was alone. It keeps you focused; it keeps you motivated. We kind of compete with each other in a positive way. It's also easy to learn a lot from each other, just watching each other's mistakes. If coach Clayton makes a comment to one of us, you can say 'oh I'm doing that too'. Having a training partner adds another aspect to our training that's very helpful in my opinion this year. It helps to reinforce my own technique when I see a general mistake that they're making. I feel like it's very easy to understand what you need to do, but it's a different matter of actually having your body do it. Seeing someone else make the same mistakes your making and pointing them out makes you consistently think about those things and it helps drill that into your own training."

• Previous Spotlight: Patrick Cochran