Coburn ends prolific high school career on top
Crested Butte Community School senior Emma Coburn added two more state titles to her staggering list of high school track accomplishments at the 2A state meet in Pueblo Friday and Saturday, May 16-17.
The CBCS track team took five athletes in total to the event, with everyone returning with a podium finish.
Once again, Coburn led the charge, opening the meet on Friday by running the first leg of the girls’ 4×800-meter relay.
Freshmen Hannah Smith and Erin Kelly ran second and third position and junior Emma Vosburg brought it home, running the anchor leg.
Coburn’s effort in the opening 800 meters set the pace for the next three runners, as they pulled together for a fourth-place finish with a time of 10:22.48.
It was the relay teams’ best time of the season as each girl stepped up in their individual leg.
“I thought we could be high up there on the podium and we were,” says coach Sarah Fuld. “Emma’s leg encouraged everyone to go out as fast as possible. Hannah ran a great leg.”
Yet, the 800-meter relay proved merely a warm-up for Coburn as she lined up for the 1,600-meter run on Friday, gunning for her fourth state title in a row in the event.
Coburn jumped out of the start with the lead and never looked back, crushing the field and breaking her own school record with a time of 5:11.92.
“Her mile was awesome,” says Fuld. “When she runs and is out in front, she’s just unbeatable.”
Coburn admits she felt some pre-race nerves until she stepped up to run.
“I was a little nervous warming up, but by the time I got to the starting line I was focused,” says Coburn. “I was just thinking about the clock.”
Junior Jack Linehan had a solid showing at his first solo experience at the state meet. While Linehan has competed at the state level as part of a relay team, Friday was his first start as an individual, as he lined up for the 1,600-meters.
Linehan continued building on his pace, peaking for the season at the state meet with a personal and school record time of 4:32.72, to finish sixth.
“He ran so hard and ran a very smart race,” says Fuld. “The last 200 meters he just gave it everything he had.”
Still, Linehan saw room for improvement and is gunning to return to the state meet next year.
“I feel I could have run faster,” says Linehan. “I had some opportunities to move up but I didn’t take them. I’ve got another year and I’m really excited to get back there.”
Whereas Friday’s weather proved perfect for a track meet, Crested Butte tracksters were met with seemingly stifling heat on Saturday.
“The weather turned hot on us,” says Fuld.
Titan runners waited all day for their events to come but the break did nothing to slow them down.
Heading into the 800-meters, Coburn knew she would have some girls on her heels, based on times from previous races, and would be tested more than in the 1,600-meter event.
“I was only a few seconds faster than the other girls, so it was a bit more nerve-wracking,” says Coburn.
Yet her plan was still to focus on the clock. Unfortunately, the clock was broken and she was left in the dark on her split time.
“I was kind of clueless so I just ran more for the win,” explains Coburn.
In the end Coburn added her eighth and final state title to her career, winning the 800-meters in a time of 2:18.92.
Linehan set another personal record and school record with a time of 2:03.66 in the 800-meters to edge out a third-place finish.
“He crossed the finish line one-tenth of a second ahead of fourth place,” says Fuld. “He came into the race seeded third and finished third, which was great. He’s turned into a runner.”
Coburn and Kelly represented the Titans in the 3,200-meters. With one event left to claim as her own, Coburn went out strong, but her efforts in the 800-meter event earlier that day took their toll on her and she was forced to drop out after four laps.
“I was running for the win and doing what I could to win,” says Coburn. “I felt okay but after the first mile I was really, really sore and I had to stop. It was devastating.”
In a symbolic passing of the Titan torch moment, Kelly carried the Crested Butte name to the finish line to take fifth place with a time of 12:10.41, improving on her personal record by over 10 seconds.
“It was just an incredible effort by Erin,” says Fuld. “I’m so proud of her. She ran great this whole season.”
In the end, the Titans finished with six out of a possible seven podium spots at the state meet.
“I’m so proud of these athletes,” says Fuld. “They ran their hearts out and everyone did so well at state.”
It was a fitting end for Coburn as she closed her Titan track career with four state titles in the 1,600-meters, two in the 800-meters and two in the 3,200-meters, by far the most decorated Titan athlete in the school’s 11-year existence.
For Coburn, the close to her Titan athletic career was met with mixed emotions.
“I was definitely looking to end with the wins but it was a bittersweet feeling,” says Coburn. “Finishing my high school career with two wins was definitely satisfying. Go out with a bang.”
Looking back on her high school track career, Coburn points to her debut last year at the Nike Nationals when she took fourth place in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, turning the heads of college coaches in the audience.
“Nationals last year was one of the best experiences I’ve had in high school,” says Coburn.
Coburn plans on returning this year to the Nike Outdoor Nationals in North Carolina, June 19-21, to compete once again in the steeplechase. Linehan will make his first trip to the prestigious event to compete in the mile.
Coburn will continue her track career in college, as she heads to run for CU Boulder on a full scholarship starting next year.