Boulder Running Company/Colorado Track XC Athletes of the Week
Landry Cogburn - Walsh
Stephanie Hutsell - Loveland
Special to Colorado Track XC by Jessica Foreman
For many track athletes, the glory of crossing the finish line is mistaken as an individual triumph. Loveland High School Senior, Stephanie Hutsell, will never make this mistake. Her relay triumphs this week solidify her keen awareness in the value of a team effort.
Hutsell has had several top-place finishes in the open 200 meter and 400 meter races this season, but she sees her strength in the relays, as was proven in St. Vrain’s Invitational meet on May 6 in Longmont. Hutsell and her teammates not only won four different relay events, but broke four school records in the process. Hutsell anchored the 800m sprint medley relay (1:46.86), 4x100m (48.35), 4x200m (1:39.90), and 4x400 m (3:53.57).
“Sometimes we joke around, but we came together and I immediately felt the focus,” said Hutsell. “I think we had a perfect balance between being serious and knowing that we had nothing to lose on the track. We really wanted to get our relays higher up at state to compete for the state title. We wanted to push for times.”
Loveland High School sprint and relay coach Rod Staggs said Hutsell has shown raw talent since her 5’1’’ frame stepped onto the track as a fourteen year old.
“I’ve coached 44 years, and she’s in the top three people I’ve ever coached,” said Staggs. “She is small in stature, but she’s got the heart of a lion.”
Staggs and Hutsell both know that this year’s state championship drive is a group effort, and Hutsell, a three-sport athlete also involved in volleyball and basketball, understands teamwork.
“She’s very team-oriented and has been a leader since freshman year,” said Staggs. [The relays] feed off of each other and it’s a family. They call themselves the Blonde Brigade...because of their hair color.”
Staggs training emphasis on block work and baton hand-offs is expected to pay off in the conference meet this weekend, and the state championship the following weekend. The events Hutsell will run at the state meet are still undecided. However the St. Vrain performance and all of the potential points from relays may be a factor when Staggs and Hutsell decide what will make Loveland High most competitive for the state title.
“Whatever she’s asked to do, she’ll do, and do a great job in it,” said Staggs. “She’ll do whatever it takes to make the team a potential state champion.
Staggs will give Hutsell her high school diploma during graduation the day following the state meet. Hutsell will attend the University of Nebraska-Kearney in the fall where her brother also attends and plays basketball. Hutsell received a scholarship for track and plans to walk on the volleyball team
Another record was broken this week by Walsh High School senior Landry Cogburn. Cogburn ran a 39.01 in the 300 hurdles at the 1A Invitational meet at Lloyd Gaskill field, and that time collapsed a 26-year-old stadium record. This was Cogburn’s second first-place finish of the week in the 300 hurdles. He ran a PR of 38.80 at the Cheyenne Wells Tiger Invitational a couple days before.
Cogburn has been running the 110 and 300 hurdles in high school since his freshman year, but his running history dates all the way back to his parents. His mother, Pam, was a sprinter, and his father ran the hurdles in high school and in college. Cogburn fell into his parents’ fast footsteps as a sixth grader at Walsh when his coach put him into his first hurdles race.
“I had never even practiced,” said Cogburn. “The gun shot off and as soon as I got over the third hurdle I fell and scraped myself up really bad. I got up and finished the race, but at that point I don’t know if I thought I wasn’t going to do it again. I know I thought that I had to redeem myself. I just worked at it.”
And Cogburn has been working hard since. He now holds the 2010 2A state title in the 110 and 300 hurdles, and he was in the top five for both events in 2009. Cogburn is state-qualified in the open 200m this season, and has been a part of several relay teams during his high school career.
“I was just truly excited to be able to do track,” said Cogburn. “It’s one of those things that I’ve always loved.”
Walsh High School’s track coach, Tom Meardon, said that one of Cogburn’s most remarkable track performances took place in the La Junta Open meet earlier this season. Cogburn battled not only the usual hurdles, but also 20 mph winds.
“He broke our school record, which was his record to begin with,” said Meardon. “He’s an extremely hard worker, very coachable, a super role model for all and leads by example."
Cogburn will be running the 110 and 300 hurdles, the 4x400 relay and the open 200m at the state track meet this coming weekend. He said his goals are to reach to his full potential and to glorify God for all he is allowed to do. Cogburn said at the start of the race he is just praying that he can do his best...
... and during the race?
“Oh man I’m praying then too!” said Cogburn. “The whole time, Lord, don’t let me fall.”
Cogburn has had several offers to run track at schools such as UNC and CSU, but is seriously considering playing football and running track on scholarship at Tabor College in Kansas. He is planning on double majoring in Christian ministry and athletic training.
“It’s amazing, I feel very blessed,” said Cogburn’s mother, Pam. “He’s been a wonderful person and example to me even. He has a God-given talent.”
With athletes such as Hutsell and Cogburn participating in the 2011 state championship, we can anticipate more fallen records and outstanding performances this coming weekend.