Khaliel Burnett can see himself soaring more than 50 feet in the triple jump and more than 25 feet in the long jump sometime over the final three weekends of the track and field season.
Those would be remarkable leaps for the Delsea senior.
They also would be right in line with his progress – both on the track runway and in the hallways of the school in Franklinville – over the course of his career.
Burnett already owns the second-best triple jump in South Jersey history. He’s the defending Meet of Champions winner who has gone 49 feet 1 ¾ inches in the demanding event.
Only Haddon Heights’ Dominique Irons, who went 50-6 ¾ in 2013, has gone farther as a South Jersey athlete.
Burnett also has gone 23-0 ½ in the long jump this season. He has his sights set on bettering both marks as the track and field season enters its championship stretch, starting with this weekend’s sectionals.
“I’m very pumped,” Burnett said the other day at Delsea. “I can’t wait to finish the last few weeks out strong.”
Delsea head coach Ronn Flaim calls Burnett “a special athlete” and Crusaders’ jumps coach Dave Allonardo regards the senior as a “freak” combination of speed, strength and flexibility.
“He’s just very physically gifted,” Allonardo said. “It’s just amazing how strong his core is and how flexible he is for a guy whose 6-foot, 6-1, 205 pounds.”
Flaim says that Burnett is “among the best we’ve ever had” as an athlete.
Burnett has made remarkable progress off the track as well. He’s developed into a diligent and responsible student after earning, by his own admission, a reputation as a bit of a disciplinary problem in middle school.
“I was in trouble every day,” Burnett said.
Allonardo said Burnett as a senior is “a completely different person” from Burnett as an eighth grader.
“It’s like two different people,” Allonardo said.
Flaim also marvels at the progress Burnett has made as a student.
“He’s come a long way,” Flaim said. “We had a lot of sit-downs. A lot of sit-downs.”
Burnett said he matured, thanks to influence from family and friends.
“Just watching my older cousins and seeing how they acted and then looking at myself and how I was acting,” Burnett said. “I was like, ‘I can’t continue to act like this.’
“At some point, I just realized I needed to mature and be more of a model figure for the people around me.
“It feels amazing because all the teachers used to tell me I had potential and I needed to use my potential and I’m finally doing that.
“All my teachers, they just gave me energy to become a better person.”
Burnett plans to attend Monroe Junior College in New Rochelle, N.Y., for a year or two, with hopes of transferring to an NCAA Division I program such as South Carolina.
Flaim and others believe Burnett is capable of making that leap.
After all, that’s his specialty.
“His ceiling is way up there,” Flaim said.