Pomona senior Emma Stutzman still had enough energy for a victorious scream after running the Class 5A girls 3,200-meter run in a time of 10 minutes, 12.68 seconds May 19 at Jeffco Stadium.
After a handful of close calls on the track and cross country over four years, Stutzman finally captured her first individual high school state title.
“It feels about as good as you think it would feel,” Stutzman said about standing atop the podium for the first time in a state event during her highly decorated prep career.
In Stutzman’s first race of the 3-day state meet, the senior led from start-to-finish in the 3,200. Stutzman was also one of the favorites in the 800 and 1,600 final later in the meet.
“There was a lot of excitement, but a little bit of it was relief that I did it,” Stutzman said of her victory in the 3,200. “The first race is always little more nerve-wracking than the other ones because you don’t know exactly how you fell. You don’t know exactly how you are going to react in that first one.”
Air Academy junior Bethan Michalak, who came in as the top seed, couldn’t keep up with Stutzman on the final 300 meters.
“Coming around with about 250 (meters) left probably,” Stutzman said when she really felt she was going to win. “I was like, ‘It’s all or nothing.’ I had to be on my toes and was telling myself I was OK. I just had to do it. At 250 I felt nobody could catch me. This was my race.”
Stutzman’s face looked a little stressed with two laps remaining, but she was confident that the pace was manageable enough that she could finish strong in the final 200 meters.
Valor senior Brooke Wilson, who edged out Stutzman in the 5A girls cross country championship race last Fall, finished third in a time of 10:28.49.
“It is a little bit off now,” Stutzman said of the pressure in her final high school state meet before heading off to run for Northern Arizona University. “Now it becomes even more fun because there isn’t that worry.”
Stutzman had placed in the top-4 of the 1,600 and 3,200 at the state meet the past two years. As a sophomore she took third in the 1,600 and runner-up in the 3,200. Last year, she took fourth in both the 1,600 and 3,200.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled the state track and field championships Stutzman’s freshman year.
On the cross country side, Stutzman finished in the top-10 all four years. She took 4th (freshman), 3rd (sophomore), 9th (junior) and 2nd (senior) during her cross country career at Pomona.
“I’m glad I don’t have to worry about it anymore,” said Stutzman, who will run at Northern Arizona University next Fall.
About 90 minutes after winning the 3,200 she ran in the 5A girls 800 final. Stutzman was in contention to win her second state title in less than 2 hours, but Denver East sophomore Rosie Mucharsky was able to pull away in the final 200 meters to take the victory in a time of 2:09.57. Stutzman finished 2nd with a time of 2:11.32.
Stutzman finished off her prep career May 20 in record-setting fashion. She set a new all-time Colorado mark and state record in the girls 1,600 with a time of 4:39.94. The previous marks of 4:44.13 (all-time Colorado) and 4:45.96 (state) were both set by Cherry Creek’s Riley Stewart in 2021.
“I wanted to beat my school record that I set back in my sophomore year,” Stutzman said when asked if she was going after Stewart’s marks. “I never thought I would do that. I’m speechless.”
Michalak led the race for the majority of the race until the final lap. Stutzman started her kick with about 300 meters to go and finished nearly 3 seconds ahead of the Air Academy junior.
“The last race at Jeffco, to make it a win, to make in a school and state record is just crazy to think,” Stutzman said. “I’m just happy I was able to do it.”
Stutzman’s performance in here final state meet definitely cemented her legacy as one of the top distant runners to ever come out of not only Jeffco, but Colorado.
“If you come to practice everyday with the same goal, you do the same thing consistently and you build yourself a good mindset you can do anything,” Stutzman said.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.