Thirteen years later, 1100 miles away, ex-Rockford runners are coaching rivals

The year was 1998 and Jason Hartmann and Kyle Fujimoto were teammates on Rockford High School’s powerful cross country and track and field teams. Hartmann then a senior was the state cross country champion and Fujimoto was a sophomore as Rockford took runners up at the state meet.

In the thirteen years since, they have gone in different directions, to different parts of the country but as fate would now have it, they find themselves as coaches for rival schools’ cross country teams outside of Boulder, Colorado in Longmont.

Upon graduating in 2001 from Rockford, Fujimoto went on to be an accomplished runner at Hillsdale College where he was All-Conference, All Region and national qualifier for cross country and track. Kyle went on to get his Masters in Economics at Texas A&M and finished his studies in Economics and Education at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Hartmann attended the University of Oregon in Eugene and went on to have a highly successful All-American career. At Oregon, Jason earned degrees in Education and Sociology. He now runs professionally, training in the running mecca of Boulder. He is considered one of America’s top marathon runners. Hartmann won the 2009 Twin Cities Marathon and was the top US finisher at the prestigious Chicago Marathon with a personal best of 2:11:06.

Because of their common interest in education as well their running backgrounds, the two ex-Rockford teammates are now coaches for two schools just 10 miles apart, but over 1100 miles away from their roots in West Michigan. Hartmann is coach for Niwot High, while Fujimoto coaches for Skyline.

Their running pedigree must have rubbed off on their respective teams as Niwot placed third in a highly competitive region just edging out Skyline who finished fourth. Both teams qualified for the state meet held on Oct 29 where Fujimoto’s Skyline turned the tables with a ninth place finish. (The school’s highest in 25 years) Hartmann’s boys finished 13th and the girls finished seventh with their top girl finishing second overall.

Both Kyle and Jason love working with the kids and attribute that to many of the great experiences they had with all the teachers, coaches and people that influenced their lives while growing up in the great city of Rockford.


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