By cruising to Class 5A state titles in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles Saturday at Jeffco Stadium, Rock Canyon’s Emily Sloan cemented herself as one of the greatest — if not the greatest — hurdlers in Colorado prep girls history.
But in an accolade-laden career in which the senior captured six individual championships (four in the 100, two in the 300), it was the title Sloan didn’t win that says the most about the instincts that have led her to her success.
As a junior last year, Sloan was chasing repeat double titles in her hurdling events and, after winning the 100, found herself miles ahead of the competition as she approached the final turn of the 300.
But Sloan wasn’t just content on winning another championship. She wanted the state record and, knowing it was within her grasp, peeked at the scoreboard as she jumped over the final hurdle. But she clipped it, fell, and then was passed en route to second place.
“That fall, in a sense, defines Emily, because if she’s going to do something, she’s going to go for it,” said Anna Hall, a close friend of Sloan’s and a four-time hurdling champion for Valor Christian. “She went for it, hitting her steps instead of stuttering, and it didn’t happen for her that day. There’s a lot of people who would have stuttered — even I, in the 4A race that day, stuttered on the last hurdle to make sure I got over it. But she just goes for things.”
That attack mind-set, combined with a long-legged, 5-foot-10 frame and natural athletic ability conducive to hurdling, enabled Sloan to quickly process her fall in the 300, and then turn the shortcoming into fuel for this season.
“Last year was a bummer, because I was going for the record and I fell down trying, which isn’t terrible,” Sloan said. “But it made me want it even more this year, and I’ve thought about that record a lot since that day.”
In addition to her state titles, the University of Oregon commitment now holds the Colorado record in the 300 with her time of 40.60 seconds in the preliminaries. That record came after Sloan initially broke the mark of 41.18 (set by Rocky Mountain’s Carly Lester) with a time of 40.77 at the Continental League championships, only for that to get broken by Hall in the 4A preliminaries on Thursday at 40.76.
“Yesterday, after Hall set the record, me and my other coaches are going, ‘This is going to light a fire under her,’ ” Rock Canyon head coach Dan Davies said. “And once again, a few minutes later she came out so hard, we were thinking she had the record, but she stuttered again before the sixth hurdle.
“She still had it.”
Dealing with the stuttering is something Sloan has focused on this season, as despite her continued dominance within the state, Davies believes her potential for continued technical growth is high once she can consistently stay in routine with her step progression throughout the entirety of a race — especially in the grueling 300.
“At the Arcadia (Invitational in California in April), she was out in front winning the 300 hurdles and she came up on the fifth hurdle and just about stuttered to a stop, and a girl passed her and beat her,” Davies said. “And the last couple weeks, it’s the sixth hurdle she’s been stuttering on — she did that at the league meet and still broke the state record with 40.77.”
Though Sloan’s hurdling times were slowed by rainy, wet conditions Saturday — when she also took runner-up in the 200-meter dash behind Denver East phenom Arria Minor — Davies said the hurdler’s focus was on capping her career with two more titles.
“I told her today that I knew she wanted badly to go under 40 seconds in the 300, which is a rare accomplishment, but today was all about winning a championship,” Davies said. “You’ve just got to run to win, and she did.”
Emily Sloan’s Times
In the finals
100m hurdles — 13.59 (1st)
300m hurdles — 41.42 (1st)
200m dash — 24.39 (2nd)
Sloan’s top 100m 2018 — 13.35
Nation’s top 100m 2018 — 13.03 (Tia Jones, Georgia)
Sloan’s top 300m 2018 — 40.60
Nation’s top 300m 2018 — 40.16 (Masai Russell, Maryland)