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Sunday, May 19, 2024

A track-and-field shot put weighs 16 pounds, but that's nothing compared to the weight of expectations that Beau Burroughs has carried around with him for the last three years.

Burroughs, a high school All-American at Tampa Jesuit High, began throwing the shot put at age 10.

"My dad put a shot in my hand when I was 10 years old, and I never looked back," Burroughs said.

Burroughs was the Florida Class 2A state champion in both the discus and the shot put in 2004 and was an alternate for the 2005 junior national team.

After considering Arizona, Auburn, Mississippi State and UF, Burroughs signed to compete for Florida State out of high school.

After a disappointing freshman campaign at FSU, he decided to transfer to UF.

"I just never felt comfortable at Florida State," he said.

Burroughs did not compete for UF during the 2006 season.

He then spent his sophomore season much as he did the previous year - on the sideline - getting sick with a stomach ulcer in the middle of the year.

"I lost about 20 pounds, and it caused all of my throws to go down," Burroughs said. "I wasn't able to train for a lot of the season."

Burroughs' illness, along with a constant rotation of coaches, hampered his progress during the last two years.

"I have had a different coach each year that I have been here," Burroughs said. "It's hard, because each coach brings a different program with a different feel. This is the first time that I have had the same coach for more than six months."

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After years of disappointment, Burroughs has finally started to live up to the hype.

Through the first three meets of the season, the junior is a perfect three for three in collegiate competition and has moved into sixth place on UF's all-time indoor shot put list.

Before the 2008 season, Burroughs had never won a collegiate meet.

"I feel like I have really underachieved the last two years," he said. "I feel like I have put too much pressure on myself in the past, but this year I am just having a lot of fun."

UF assistant coach Steve Lemke believes that Burroughs' laid-back approach has made a difference in how he has competed this year.

"He is just more relaxed this year," Lemke said. "He's not just hoping to do well. He is expecting to do well."

Burroughs credits Lemke with much of his improvement over the last year.

"I feel like I have become a better overall athlete," Burroughs said.

Lemke, who has more than 20 years of collegiate and international coaching experience, has focused on simplifying Burroughs' training.

"We have really worked on keeping his technique simple," Lemke said. "Because his training sessions have gone well, he has been a lot more confident in the meets. He has put together a couple of months of really good training."

While Burroughs is pleased with his fast start to the season, he makes his real goals for the season perfectly clear.

"The only meet that matters is the [Southeastern Conference Championship]," Burroughs said. "These other meets are just tune-ups. They're practices."

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