Prep Athlete of the Year: Cameron Burkett
After dominating for Kelly Walsh High School on the gridiron and throwing the shot put, Cameron Burkett is the first 2022 Wyoming News Now Prep Athlete of the Year.
CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - If you made your way to Kelly Walsh High School on Friday nights last fall, you could probably spot Trojan running back Cameron Burkett running past and over defenders on the football field. When you followed indoor track in the winter and track and field in the spring, you wouldn’t have to search hard to find Burkett’s name at the top of the list for boys’ shot put.
Burkett was our Wyoming News Now Athlete of the Week on May 2 after signing a letter of intent to join the University of Wyoming track and field. His selection as the first 2022 Wyoming News Now Prep Athlete of the Year wasn’t a difficult one.
“It was pretty special being able to have somebody on your team that you knew could potentially score any time they touched the ball,” said Michael Sims, Burkett’s running backs coach at Kelly Walsh.
Sims didn’t stop there with his praise for his former pupil, “When he goes to college, he has the potential to be pretty dang incredible. I would argue that although he’s had super success at the high school level. He has barely scratched the surface of his potential.”
Sims wasn’t the only coach to appreciate Burkett’s greatness. Kelly Walsh head football coach Aaron Makelky said that Burkett’s combination of size, speed, and strength were the kinds of attributes that a football coach may only get to coach once in a lifetime.
“It’s one thing to be fast and big and have great hands and all those skills,” said Makelky. “But when you make everybody else on the field better and they play harder because you’re out there, that’s something that [Burkett] brought to the table that I don’t know how you replace that.”
When he took the football pads off, Burkett didn’t slow up. He found a way to play in 13 games for the Casper Oilers hockey program and tallied 25 total points.
During the track season, Burkett’s star shined brightest. He was an all-state selection for indoor track, but he was saving his best for the outdoor season.
At the state meet, he defended his 4A state title in the shot put, and he set the new state record for boys’ shot put. The final throw of his high school career hit the ground at 65-10.25, which broke the previous record by more than two feet.
“I’m just glad his dream came true to go to UW and throw some things around,” said Chase Olsen, Burkett’s throwing coach with the Trojans. “Like I told him once state was over, ‘Hey, you’re off to bigger and better things so go enjoy it and do the best you can because before you know it you’re gonna have to get a job like I got.’ Ya know all the fun stuff’s over, so [we] had a pretty good chuckle with that. I know he’s gonna do good things and work hard. [It] should be fun to watch him.”
Burkett also didn’t stop making headlines after picking up his diploma from Kelly Walsh High School. In the 2022 Wyoming Shrine Bowl, he scored two touchdowns for the North in a 37-3 victory and won the 2022 male Milward Simpson Award.
We were fortunate to have the man himself in the studio for an interview on Monday afternoon. Burkett sat down with David Graf to talk about his favorite memories as a Trojan, what’s next for him and more.
The interview has been edited for content and clarity.
DG: You just heard from some of your coaches and all of the nice things they had to say about you. What role did those coaches play in your life and your development as an athlete?
CB: Every coach that I’ve had has played a different role in my life. They’ve all taught me things not even about sports. They’ve taught me things about sports, but they taught me life skills that I’m going to carry on for the rest of my life, and that’s something that I can’t change out for the world. I wouldn’t change that for anything.
DG: You did football and track. You managed to squeeze some hockey in there as well. What was your introduction to sports?
CB: When I was four years old, my mom decided to try and make me follow in my brother’s footsteps and play some hockey, so I thought it was a good idea. [I] played for my first year and then didn’t like it, so I quit. Then, I came back when I was six, and then, that was the first sport I ever played was hockey. Then ever since then flag football, baseball, a little bit, building up from there.
DG: You have a lot of moments to choose from during high school. Which one are you most proud of?
CB: I gotta say my junior year when we were the seventh seed going into the playoffs and expected not to do good at all, but we just upset Cheyenne Central, and the experience with those guys is something you can never change.
DG: What about in your senior year particularly?
CB: My senior year I think the proudest moment is just getting to know every single guy on the football team. Getting to know them for who they are. Not just who they are athletically, but in their own lives. I like that I know almost all of them.
DG: You definitely got the Kelly Walsh name out there. What did it mean to you to be a Trojan?
CB: It meant the world. In my 8th grade year, I went to Centennial, and I talked to my friends, mainly my best friend, who is Jessie Thornton, shoutout Jessie. He and I decided that we wanted to play football at KW and ever since then we had a bond that we couldn’t break going to Kelly Walsh.
DG: You’re off to Laramie to compete on the track and field team for the Cowboys. What are your goals going forward?
CB: My goal is to be the best I can be at the next level. I want to learn new things [and] new ways to do better than how I did my senior year. I want to be [at] the top of the Mountain West Conference. That’s my goal.
DG: What are you most excited about in this next chapter of your life?
CB: I guess just growing as an individual. I’ve always been nervous about going into the real world, but I guess it’s time now, and I gotta step up to the plate.
Congratulations to Cameron Burkett and his family. Special shoutout to Grandma Judy.
Copyright 2022 Wyoming News Now. All rights reserved.