Photo Credit Grant Munroe
Chasing a record that has stood for 103 years
April 8, 2016
Eric Burns resting before his next jump.

Eric Burns resting before his next jump.

UPDATE: Eric Burns broke the 103-year-old school long jump record held by Phil Stiles ’13 at Saturday’s (April 16) Prep Invitational at Lawrence Central High School, Indianapolis. Burns set a new mark of 23-feet-8.25-inches. Stiles mark was 23-7.

Eric Burns is chasing ghosts.

Earlier this year, the Culver Military first-classman broke the indoor long jump record of 22-feet-3-inches set by Lawrence Hume ’37. Burns (New Carlisle, Ind.) broke Hume’s record with a leap of 22-6¾. Then he jumped 22-10½ at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York on March 11 to set the current mark.

Now, he has his sights set on the 23-7 outdoor record currently held by Phil Stiles ’13 – that’s 1913.

Stiles’ record is 103 years old. But the history behind it is even more remarkable. That mark set the national interscholastic record and stood as the top high school leap for 31 years. It was the best mark in Indiana for 45 years.

He went on to have a remarkable career at the University of Wisconsin and for the Chicago Athletic Association team. He received All-America honors and won two AAU national titles. The Chicago Tribune said on Aug. 1, 1915, that Stiles was regularly jumping over 24 feet in preparation for the national AAU meet.

I would almost feel bad about breaking it. His name has been on the board for so long . . .

Phil Stiles (rgiht) in a 1913 promotional postcard.

Phil Stiles (rgiht) in a 1913 promotional postcard.

Stiles would have garnered even more attention if he had been able to participate in the Olympics, but the 1916 Games were canceled due to World War I. He is in the Culver Academies’ Athletic Hall of Fame and  Indiana Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame.

Burns honored as WSBT
Outstanding Student-Athlete

Now that Burns owns the indoor mark, he is working to break Stiles’ outdoor record before graduating and continuing his athletic career at Loyola University of Chicago. And he does have a special admiration for both records, considering the eras in which they were set.

“One (Hume’s indoor record) was set before World War II. The other (Stiles’ outdoor record) before World War I,” Burns said. “It’s pretty remarkable. You think about how everything has improved – the track conditions, the shoes, what we know about training. People look at the record board and see the ’13 after (Stiles) name and just assume it’s 2013.

“I would almost feel bad about breaking it,” Burns, who has jumped over 23 feet outdoors, said. “His name has been on the board for so long . . .

“But that doesn’t mean that I still don’t want it.”

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