For the second straight season Erin Starks of Northern Kentucky started her season at the Commonwealth College Opener in Louisville, Kentucky, Dec. 2.
The stylish and charismatic hurdler from the mid-major institution that competes in the Horizon League found herself surrounded by All-American athletes who compete at nationally recognized programs for yet another season. Last year, at her first collegiate meet, the freshman placed third in a final that included Kentucky's Masai Russell, a two-time NCAA silver medalist in the 60-meter hurdles and former Big Ten champ Yasmin Brooks who transferred from Penn State to run for Kentucky in 2023.
This year Starks was in a final with Texas All-American Emelia Chatfield and her freshman teammate Akala Garrett who was a Nike national hurdles champ in high school. Starks placed third for the second straight season but being in the presence among such top-tier talent at the start of the season has been helpful to her experience as a collegiate competitor.
"I definitely love running against Texas," Starks said. "They really push me. I got third to them, but I feel like they really bring the aggression and competitiveness out of me. It was a great experience. I feel like I have to put on my game face."
Prior to college, Starks was one of the best high school hurdlers in Ohio. She was an indoor and outdoor bronze medalist at the state championships as she ran for Trotwood-Madison High School.
Commonwealth College Opener 60-Meter Hurdlers Final
1. Emelia Chatfield, Texas, 8.19
2. Akala Garrett, Texas, 8.33
3. Erin Starks, Northern Kentucky, 8.89
4. Sanai Kintchen, Prairie View, 8.91
5. Sharonda Priester, Lenoir-Rhyne, 9.00
6. Makiyah Allen, Campbellsville, 9.08
7. Maya Follmer, Louisville, 9.10
8. Sterling Webb, Lincoln Memorial, 10.27
Texas' Chatfield gets first college win
Emelia Chatfield of Texas won a 60-meter hurdles race for the first time of her collegiate career. Now don't get it twisted, Chatfield is no slouch. In 2021 she was an NCAA Second Team All-American hurdler and a bronze medal winner that year at the Big 12 Championships.
A native of Hollywood, Florida, Chatfield, stepped on the track with a look of confidence to open her season at the Commonwealth College Opener. In the preliminary round she had the second fastest time of 8.46 seconds, trailing her teammate Akala Garrett, who crossed the finish line of 8.45 in her first race. During the final Chatfield surged pass the competition and won at 8.19, well ahead runner-up Garrett (8.33) and third place competitor Erin Starks of Northern Kentucky (8.89).
Chatfield showed some flare with the race in hand as she gestured towards the Longhorn logo across her jersey in front of a camera while other competitors were still completing the event. The 8.19 finish was just the second time that she ran under 8.20. At the Big 12 Indoor Championships in 2021, Chatfield placed third at 8.05 seconds in just her sixth collegiate race in the event.
A product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Chatfield. She was a state champion in 2019 as a competitor in the 300 meter hurdles.
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