If there's one runner on the CU Women's Track & Field team that has surprised us all this season, it's 19-year old sophomore Emma Coburn. At the Mt. SAC relays on April 15th, she ran the world's fastest 3,000 meter steeplechase of the year (at that point) and the fastest time for 2010 by a collegiate runner (9 minutes, 56.29 seconds.) This week she was added as an honorable mention to the prestigious national Bowerman Watch List, and she deserves the spot.
This season is Coburn's second with the Buffs, and her improvements over last year have been dramatic. Her 3,000 meter steeplechase time of 10:06.21 in 2009 was good for the USA Junior record, but since then she has shaved almost ten seconds off the clock and left the ten-minute mark in the dust. Although she focuses primarily on the steeplechase, Coburn has also run in the 800 and 1500-meter races in competition for the Buffs.
Coburn has also moved up the ranks on the CU Cross-Country team. Having started her collegiate career as the No.6 CU runner at the ISU Open in 2008, she was third behind only Jenny Barringer and Allie McLaughlin at the 2009 Rocky Mountain Shootout. At the Big 12 Championship last season, she was the fifth Buff to cross the finish line with an impressive 22nd place.
She came from a tiny high school with a 20-person graduating class in Crested Butte, Colorado. Her first taste of real track & field competition came when her coach entered her in the Nike Outdoor Nationals her junior year. She took a gamble with the steeplechase - to which she was almost completely new - and earned fourth to get noticed by CU recruits. Now, she is 2010's fastest collegiate steeplechase runner in the world, already setting her sights on professional running.
With two more years left in her collegiate career, Coburn is sure to keep dropping time both on the cross-country course and on the track. But for her, the steeplechase is what it's all about. Says Coburn, "The steeple is probably why I'm here," and the University of Colorado is fortunate to have her.
Thanks to cubuffs.com for the stats, quote, and picture!