Colorado Year In Review: Stutzman Sweeps In Record Fashion

Finishing second has a way of changing things when all you want is to win. 

When I write "changing things" I mean that it has a way of making you want it even more - because it was elusive.

Entering 2023 Emma Stutzman has zero state titles to her name. 

She had been good and on the cusp of greatness for years, but crossing the line first in the most coveted races (State) had eluded her. 

In the fall of 2022 she finished second at the Colorado State Cross County Championships after a flawless season. But there's a little asterisk in that runner-up finish - she finished behind Brooke Wilson, who ran the fastest time on the course ever.

Finishing second to a historic run is impressive, but still, it's finishing second.

That would be the last time Stutzman lost a race to another Colorado runner in a race over a mile.

The Pomona senior went on a rampage during the final track season of her high school career. 

But I'll spare you the details of rewriting what's already written below - we'll jump to those two days in May when Stutzman summited the peak of her high school career.

She tripled at the 2023 Colorado State Track and Field Championships, and nearly swept the distance events. 

While that feat alone is already impressive enough, it's how fast she ran that really launched Stutzman into one of the top stories of 2023. 

In her first race of the meet on Friday morning Stutzman jumped to the front of the field in the 3,200 and set a sizzling pace. 

Bethany Michalak - hot off her 10:11 from the The Pueblo Twilight just two weeks prior - was the only one to nearly hold pace. 

But Stutzman was determined to cross the line first - she went on run a Colorado personal best of 10:12 to claim her first state title. The relief of the moment was captured in the photo above.

State title No. 1: Check.

Several hours later Stutzman rallied back to battle to the line in the 800. She finished second in 2:11 to Rosie Mucharsky.

The result was a two-second PR for Stutzman (and a school record) - and it came just two-and-a-half hours after front-running her way to victory in the 3,200.

But she saved her best for last.

While Sutzman was the one setting the hot pace in the 3,200 Friday morning, it was Michalak who took the driver's seat in the 1,600 Saturday afternoon. 

Friday's performances alone would've been enough.

But Stutzman wanted more. 

As history would have it, the race would produce the fastest 1,600 ever on Colorado soil. 

Michalak's record-setting pace set up an epic dual that went into the final 200 meters. 

And Stutzman proved that not only could she run from the front - like she did in the 3,200 just over 24-hours ealier - but she could also kick. 

The Pomona senior lit the final 200 meters on fire to cross the finish line in a Colorado state record of 4:39.94. 

The result sliced over four-seconds off Riley Stewart's one-year-old record of 4:44.13.

State title No. 2: Check.

State record No. 1: Check.

Editor's Note: Michalak also went under the previous state record, finishing second in 4:42.65. 

Excerpt from:

August 2019

I couldn't see them at first, but I could hear them. 

The friction from their shoes on the dirt path echoed across the meadow in front of my home, where I sat quietly in my adirondack chair drinking my morning coffee. 

The faint sound of heavy breathing - the hypnotic rhythm of running - grew louder as a quartet ran down the path. They came into vision, and among them were three boys, and one girl. 

The girl had a tight blonde ponytail that dangled from side to side as they cruised at - from my view across the meadow - seemed to be an impressive pace. 

30-plus years of running, I know a Sub-8 mile when I see one...

I had recently moved near Nottingham Park, just over the hill from Pomona High School, and was unaware that they had any girls on the roster that could keep pace with the boys. 

So naturally I pulled up MileSplit, and searched the team page to figure out who this was. 

I scanned across a few names, though I figured it had to be an incoming freshman, or someone who was about to have a massive breakthrough season. 

As history would play out, it would be both.

I went back to sipping my coffee, and enjoyed the calm morning in front of me. I figured like all things about this sport, the truth would reveal itself eventually. 

While I didn't know the identity of the blonde girl with the tight ponytail running with the boys, I did know that the 2019 Colorado cross country season was about to see a new face in front of the pack.

Over the ensuing weeks it became a common sight each morning, as high school cross country practice was underway in August of 2019. 

Three weeks later the blonde with the tight ponytail toed the line in her first high school cross country race - the Vista Nation XC 2-Mile Invitational

"I told her, just run with one of the older kids, don't expend yourself too much," Coach Jack Swartz explained of his instructions. "And she ended up beating the girl, and after the race, she said 'I think I could've gone faster...' and that was the start of Emma Stutzman's career."

She ran 12:49, and finished 16th on that day.

It's like Sheryl Crow said: "There's a new (big) cat in town."

Next Page: The Journey Begins