IX AT 50: The comeback behind Kloster-Burritt’s national title

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 9:56 PM CST
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - Distance runner Kristi Kloster-Burritt began having pain in her calves her sophomore season at Kansas.

“My calves would get so tight, it felt like they were literally going to explode,” she remembers. “It was just intense pain. My feet would fall asleep, and I would just in the blink of an eye lose strength in my legs.”

That spring, 1993, doctors diagnosed her with compartment syndrome: a painful condition caused when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels.

“It was dangerous. I could have lost my legs,” she said. “I actually had to have emergency surgery that time. My pressures were so high that I basically went back to Lawrence, packed up my stuff, tried to get a hold of professors and I had surgery the next morning. So that spring outdoor season was rehab and just trying to get my legs working again.”

Three years later, her last as a Jayhawk, she qualified for the finals in the 800m race at Nationals.

But the pain persisted. She ran just four miles the week prior — a week that would have typically involved 40 to 45 miles.

“It was a photo finish, because my legs lost strength,” Kloster-Burritt said. “I felt strong and great and all of a sudden they just went.”

With a school-record time of 2:04.91, Kloster-Burritt became a national champion.

“If you look at everything that happened to me physically, I should not have been able to be in the finals or have won that race,” she said. “Just that mind over matter, mind over body and pain — it is possible.”

In addition to her national title, Kloster-Burritt was a two-time indoor All-American, indoor Big Eight champion in the 800m and distance medley relay, outdoor Big Eight champion in the 800m, and Jayhawk of the Year in 1994.

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