When Abbey Glynn signed up for a class on the business of sports for this summer at Colorado, she figured her schedule would be clear.
As it turns out, she’s been so good in the 400-meter hurdles that she needed to talk to her professor.
“I was like, ‘So I wasn’t expecting to make it this far at all and I feel really bad that I’m going to be missing the first week of class,’” she said. “But it’s nationals and you can’t miss this opportunity for anything.”
A sophomore from Mead High School, Glynn surprised even herself by qualifying for the NCAA championships in the hurdles. She and teammate Eriana Henderson, a senior, will both run in the national semifinals of the hurdles on Thursday in Eugene, Ore. The final will take place on Saturday.
“Honestly, in a late season, getting healthy just a month ago, (Glynn) has proved everything that (hurdles coach Burke Bochman) thought of her,” CU head coach Mark Wetmore said. “Getting two through in that event was a pleasant surprise.”
Getting Henderson to nationals wasn’t a big surprise. One of the best hurdlers in CU history, Henderson has reached the NCAA preliminaries four times in her career and has been one of the best in the Pac-12 during her time in Boulder.
Glynn, however, wasn’t even expected to run the hurdles this year.
A three-time state champion at Mead, including in the 300-meter hurdles as a senior in 2019, Glynn was unable to compete or practice much during her freshman year at CU because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Then, last fall, she dealt with a stress reaction in her fibula that took four months to heal. Until about two months ago, she had not hurdled since the 2019 high school state meet.
“We had a conversation at the beginning of the season, my coach and I, basically saying I’m probably not going to hurdle this year just because I haven’t been able to train and we really kind of cut back on training,” Glynn said.
That changed one day when Bochman decided Glynn might have a chance to score at the Pac-12 championships.
“We just started hurdling and here we are,” Glynn said.
On May 7, Glynn hurdled for the first time in nearly two years, placing first at the Air Force Twilight Open. About a week later, she finished fifth at the Pac-12 championships, posting a time of 58.07 seconds (Henderson was fourth, in 57.69).
Then, on May 29 at the NCAA prelims, Glynn advanced to the finals and then placed ninth overall, cutting her time down to 58.02 (Henderson was 10th, in 58.05).
“I’m just trusting the training that we’ve been doing,” Glynn said. “I didn’t even have the best hurdle form in high school. It’s not the hurdling that’s getting me this far. I think it’s just the strength that I’ve had in the open 400.”
It’s also the strength she’s gained from those around her.
When CU’s facilities were closed last year because of COVID, Glynn went to Mead High to train with her siblings. Her sister, Emily, is a gymnast at Denver, and her brother, Riley, is a receiver on the Black Hills State football team.
“Having the opportunity to get out of the house made us all want to work out,” Glynn said. “Sometimes we’d do each other’s workouts and just kind of have fun with it, but knowing we needed to get work in.”
Back at CU this year, Glynn has been grateful for the opportunity to train with Henderson. Although they haven’t done much hurdle training together, Glynn said, “It’s so nice to have somebody there now to push each other and actually have, not competition while we’re practicing, but somebody right there by your side the whole time. Even when we didn’t have hurdle practices, Eriana was always right there pushing me.”
Early in Henderson’s career, she trained with former CU star hurdler Gabby Scott. Now, Glynn said it “means a lot” to learn from Henderson at the end of her career.
This week will be Henderson’s first and only opportunity to compete at the NCAA finals and Glynn is excited to be by her teammate’s side.
“I’m so excited for her,” Glynn said. “This is her last chance and I know she’s trained so hard and this has been a really hard season for her coming back from COVID and everything. I want the best for Eriana, for sure.”
As for Glynn, she’s really just getting started. Although a sophomore, she could have three more years to compete and improve.
“I’m really excited,” she said. “I’m also kind of nervous because it’s like I’m expected to do this every year. … But, it’s exciting to see how far I could possibly go.”