EUGENE, Ore. -- It took Emma Coburn a fraction under nine minutes and 33 seconds to win the steeplechase Friday at the Olympic Trials. It took more than 30 minutes for the significance of the achievement to sink in.
There wasn't time for an emotional release during her victory lap at historic Hayward Field or the medals ceremony that followed, and then there was a news conference to attend. But after that, the tears flowed, and it took 20 seconds for her to compose herself.
"I'm sorry, it just hit me now," said Coburn, a Colorado Buff from Crested Butte. "I'm so sorry, it didn't even sink in until just this moment."
Coburn was overjoyed for a friend as well as for herself. Her CU teammate, Shalaya Kipp, also made the team by finishing third.
"I know I'm a hysterical mess, but this is big for us," said Coburn, dabbing away tears that streaked her dark eye shadow. "It's our dreams, it's why we get up every day and run. It's why we sweat and cry and work our (rears) off in practice. This is our dream, and to have it come true is just really special. To get to do it with my teammate, who's now one of my best friends, and to have two coaches who I really love and respect, I think we both feel really blessed right now.
"It's all just hitting me that we're Olympians, and it feels really special."
Coburn and Kipp did it together, but they were in much different positions going into the race. Coburn made the world championships team last year and was the clear favorite Friday, winning easily in 9:32:78. She red-shirted the indoor and outdoor track seasons at CU to focus on the U.S. trials and London.
Kipp ran for CU this spring -- winning the NCAA steeplechase title -- but she came here without the Olympic A standard qualifying time. To accompany Coburn to London, she had to finish in the top three and break 9:43. She ran 9:35.73 and fell to the track, a look of shock on her face.
"I was aware of the time the last 100 meters," Kipp said. "I tried just to be competitive in that top three, I was sprinting, and I was just looking at the clock every second."
Before the race the qualifying time caused plenty of stress.
"Honestly I wasn't that sure if I was going to make it or not," said Kipp, who is from Salt Lake City. "I'm still enrolled in summer school, that's supposed to start in a week. I think I'm going to have to rearrange my academic schedule now."
Like Coburn, Kipp was eager to credit CU head coach Mark Wetmore and associate head coach Heather Burroughs.
"Back in December coach Wetmore told me, 'It's not unrealistic for you to make an Olympic team this next summer,'" Kipp said. "It's kind of stuck with me, and every day I've thought about it during training. Now that it's sinking in, it feels really good."
There also was pressure on Coburn in a 3,000-meter race with 35 barriers -- each 30 inches high -- to clear.
"Although I was the favorite, there's so many what-ifs," Coburn said. "You still have to go out there and run for nine and a half minutes hard if you want to get that dream. Just because I was expected to win, it didn't mean I was in. I'm going to London, and I'm an Olympian. That's something I'm so proud of."
Coburn and Kipp join two former Buffs who have already qualified for the London Olympics: Kara Goucher in the women's marathon and Dathan Ritzenhein in the men's 10,000-meter run.
In the women's 1,500 meters semifinals Friday, Colorado alums Jenny Simpson and Sara Vaughn easily qualified for Sunday's finals after Simpson placed second and Vaughn fifth in their respective heats.
Also competing Friday were CU senior Joe Morris and former CU sprinter Jeremy Dodson in the 200-meter dash preliminary rounds. Both advanced to today's semifinals.