Khaliel Burnett is an elite athlete who understands he doesn’t need to talk about how good he is.
He is also from Delsea High School, which treats sports reverently and old school, where the Crusaders never need to pound their chest because they already know their opponents know how good they are in sports in Franklinville.
So when Burnett was asked about his dunking ability, the accomplished triple jumper just said, “Yeah I do windmills.”
Burnett wouldn’t even take claim to being the best dunker in the school, saying his friend was good, too.
The humble senior doesn’t have to say he is one of the best hop-skip-jumpers in the state because his numbers do.
The defending Meet of Champions outdoor winner soared to a personal best at the Penn Relays with a leap of 49 and a half feet, 1.75 inches over the weekend.
The jump was far enough to place fourth at Franklin Field and topped the 48-9.5 he ripped last spring to win the M of C.
His jump was the second longest at the Penn Relays by an American behind a 49-3 jump from Pennsylvania’s Treyvon Ferguson.
Still, Burnett was more effusive about his classmate Ashley Preston than himself. Preston launched a personal best 12-7.5 in the pole vault for the top height in New Jersey this outdoor season and a second-place finish. The five-foot senior didn’t qualify for the Penn Relays last year.
“She’s like my sister,” Burnett said. “She’s amazing. That’s what happens when you just grind and prepare well.”
Burnett was also proud of Delsea alumni Josh Awotunde, a senior at the University of South Carolina who placed third in the college shot put with a 63-03. Awotunde won the event last year and was the top seed coming back to Franklin Field this year.
“He was a senior when I was in eighth grade, but I got to talk to him a little bit,” Burnett said. “He is something else.”
Although modest, Burnett wasn’t surprised by his success on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania at historic Franklin Field.
“Of course, competing there gave me so much energy,” Burnett said, adding the rubber runway was “bouncy.”
Burnett, who sailed a 49-1 over the winter, targets the magical 50-foot mark.
“I was shooting for it, but I feel like I could’ve gotten better than that on my last attempt,” Burnett said about Penn, “but I used so much energy and I lost it all.”
Burnett said he hasn’t decided on college but plans on competing in track, and said he would like to become an athletic trainer. First, though, he is eyeing the upcoming Tri-County Championships to bust a 50-footer.
“I have to keep working on my speed,” Burnett said, “Over the next couple weeks I’m going to do a lot of speed training.”
Burnett also played football for the powerful Crusaders where Delsea boys’ track coach Ronn Flaim is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in South Jersey.
“We won three championships,” Burnett said.
Burnett credited the track staff for pushing him toward 50-feet.
“The coaches are really good, they pump us up every single day,” Burnett said. “Every day is like just another day to get better.”
And to improve on those windmill dunks.