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Oklahoma gets Burcham

Feb. 16, 2013 @ 12:15 AM

ONA -- Cabell Midland High School's Jacob Burcham didn't get off to a good start with his college announcement.

Burcham, a standout distance runner in track and cross country for the Knights, signed a letter of intent Friday to continue his career with the Oklahoma Sooners. The senior thanked family, friends, coaches and others during a talk at the signing ceremony held in the school auditorium.

When it came time to talk about the Sooners, Burcham said, "I'd like to talk about Ohio State."

Burcham put his head down while the crowd got a good laugh. He wasn't sure what the audience in Norman, Okla., watching the live stream thought. The mixup occurred because one of the schools Burcham considered was Ohio State.

Then, he talked about Oklahoma.

"Coach (Martin) Smith, coach (Michael) Spence are good coaches," Burcham said about the Oklahoma head coach and one of his assistants respectively. "They have a good program. On my visit, I knew I fit in well there. The team is awesome. I can see a lot of possibilities."

He will be reunited with two Mountain State runners he competed against in high school. They are Brandon Doughty and Eric Graff from Jefferson High

Burcham has received numerous awards since he launched his career as a freshman. He'll receive the 2012 Ray McCoy Award at the Victory Awards Dinner on May 5 in Clarksburg. The award goes to the outstanding male track and field athlete in the Mountain State. This is his third straight McCoy honor. He finished second to West Virginia football player Tavor Austin in voting for the West Virginia Amateur Athlete of the Year Award.

Burcham holds all the distance records for West Virginia. That's the 800, 1600, 3200 and cross country. He set an all-time state record at the 2012 Grand Prix Dream Mile in New York with a time of 4:02.73.

"I want to thank my teammates," Burcham said. "We've been pretty tight since my freshman year. It's like we're another family. I couldn't have done it without them."

The one big goal left for Burcham is breaking the 4-minute mark in the mile. Only five runners in high school have achieved that milestone.

"It would be a phenomenal feat," said Chris Parsons, Burcham's coach in track and cross country. "The key is getting him in the right race. Just think, a guy walking our hallways has the potential to do that."

Burcham will be competing in several indoor meets in the coming weeks, starting with one Saturday at Kentucky. In the outdoor season, he'll compete in major races in California and Louisville.

"People ask me what it's like to have been his coach," Parsons said. "It's been a great ride. His resume is so impressive. I've had opportunities I never had before."