Stutzman finishes 2nd at state to cap of prep XC career

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COLORADO SPRINGS — For the first time in four years there was a different face atop individual state podium for the Class 5A girls state cross country championships.

With the graduation of Cherry Creek’s Riley Stewart — 3-time 5A individual cross country champion and current freshman at Stanford University — the race for the state title was much more open than it has been since Stewart dominated with state titles in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Valor Christian senior Brooke Wilson, who finished second to Stewart last year, was that new face by setting the 5A girls course record at Norris Penrose Event Center with a winning time of 16 minutes, 59.2 seconds.

“This was my year. Riley is gone,” Wilson said of being motivated to win it after finishing runner-up to Stewart a year. “I just needed to dial in and go.”

Wilson knew the field would be tough led by Pomona senior Emma Stutzman. The pair were even at the 2-mile mark before Wilson pulled away late.

“I honestly wanted to drop her (Stutzman) at mile 2,” Wilson said of her race plan. “We just kept going. I knew when I had to go and better go hard. Luckily I was able to do that.”

Stutzman finished ninth last year after coming into the arena running on fumes and suffering from dehydration. The senior came up short on winning her first state title finishing second in a time of 17:23.6.

“That 800 (meters) she just had a little bit over me,” Stutzman said. “Once she made the move I had a quick flashback to last year. I did everything to move it out and keep moving forward.”

Wilson entered the arena and the final stretch all alone to win her first individual state title.

“I’m pretty happy,” Stutzman said. “I didn’t give up. I gave it everything I had. It just wasn’t enough. I’m OK with how it ended with giving everything I had.”

Stutzman and Wilson will likely go head-to-head a lot during the track season in the distant events coming up this spring.

“It’s incredible. We have been racing against each other since freshman year,” Wilson said of battling Stutzman. “She is such a talented runner. I’m just honored to race against these amazing girls.”

Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.

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