GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. (BVM) – It may come as somewhat of a surprise given all she’s accomplished, but Stanford recruit Riley Stewart hasn’t been a runner for that long.
The Cherry Creek High School senior actually started out as a volleyball and soccer player. She ran “a little bit” in middle school before running became her passion. But she never would’ve imagined becoming one of the most decorated runners in the history of Colorado high school athletics.
“Definitely not,” Stewart said. “Freshman year I was still playing soccer and was still iffy about splitting between the two sports. Then with the changes due to COVID my sophomore year, that’s where my change happened and I’ve just been running from then on.”
Not only has Stewart been running ever since, but she’s also been excelling as the state’s best in two sports. Stewart has won four Gatorade Colorado Player of the Year awards — three in cross country and one in track and field. She was a triple state champion last spring — in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs – and she’s won three consecutive individual cross country state championships. Stewart also holds the record for the fastest 1,600 in Colorado high school history (4:44.13). The previous mark was held by Air Academy High School grad Katie Rainsberger, who’s the daughter of one of Stewart’s coaches, Lisa Rainsberger, a University of Michigan Track and Field Hall of Famer.
“I know Katie pretty well so it’s an honor to have the record after her,” Stewart said. “And with all the people who have come through Colorado — it’s a stacked state – it’s really amazing to have that record and be part of the legacy of Colorado.”
With little left to prove at the high school level, Stewart is excited for the challenge that awaits in the Pac-12 with Stanford. She committed to the Cardinal last fall, unwilling to pass up the opportunity to compete for a school that had so much to offer a student-athlete who’s also shined in the classroom with a 4.11 GPA.
“I’m definitely ready for it,” Stewart said of the challenge Stanford presents. “Having the best athletic and best academics, it’s something I would never dream of. It just had to be my decision and I’m just happy and excited about it.”
Before she arrives on campus in California next fall, Stewart has one final spring track and field season to finish with her Cherry Creek teammates. She’d like to lower her record time in the 1,600 and hopefully set a new personal record in the 800 while also helping the Bruins to more success as a team. And then there’s always the chance of securing a staggering fifth Gatorade Player of the Year award.
“Oh my God – that would be super cool,” Stewart said. “Honestly I can’t even believe where I am now and leaving for college to run again next year, it’s crazy.”