Alayna Szuch leads a loaded incoming freshmen class.
Who will be the next great Colorado distance runner?
Colorado has given rise to many national-caliber distance runners. And with the cross country season weeks away, it's likely that we'll be seeing the next crop of distance stars. I'm sure many are wondering who among the freshmen class will turn heads and set fire to courses this fall.
In looking at the incoming freshmen class, I felt compelled to look at two areas in particular: the 5k, and the 3,000.
Since most middle school races are 3,000, that event brought more back, though given that high school runs 5k, I had to include this on the analysis as well.
When looking at both lists, it's clear that Alayna Szuch will be a force this fall. She didn't top the 3,000 list, but her 17:23 5k personal best is insanely impressive. To understand fully why, it's important to look at where it was run.
Szuch, who will attend Evergreen High this fall, ran 17:23 at Nike Cross Regionals. So we can compare her time to high school times. Leading Colorado on that day was Anna Shults, who ran 17:19. Additionally, 5A state champion Jenna Fitzsimmons ran 17:20.
So, Szuch ran the third fastest 5k of any Colorado girl last year - as an eighth grader...
And for more proof that her 5k is no fluke, she holds PRs of 11:05 in the cross country 2-mile, and as recently as this past weekend she finished runner-up to The Soleil Gaylord at the National High School Trail Championships - which was just over five miles. Clearly, she's got the strength to handle the distance.
And she's not the only stud who'll hit the course this fall.
Aidyn Woodall brings an impressive resume to the table as well. Woodall is a three-time USATF National Junior Olympics XC National Champion. Additionally, she's run 10:16 for cross country 3,000, and holds a 19:28 5k PR.
Another bright spot to keep an eye on is Eliana Thompson. She holds PRs of 10:59 for cross country 3,000, 14:29 4k cross country - which hints at a low 18 minute 5k, and a 42:35 10k PR from Bolder Boulder.
And if we're looking for a dark horse freshman, look to Emma Coburn's old stomping grounds - Crested Butte. Sarah Bivens doesn't top either of these charts, but her 11:24 3,000 from 2017 was run in Gunnison - at 7,700 feet. While the course is fairly flat, the altitude is unforgiving.