With so much track talent coming from Texas, Michael Stigler needed to be that much better to stand out. And stand out he did. Despite not having been a nationally-ranked underclassman, Michael rose to the top during his final year in high school, where he won Texas 4A State High School titles in both the 110m and 300m Hurdles.
At the University of Kansas, Michael chose to focus on the intermediate hurdles, and the effect of this decision was soon obvious: the college freshman won the BIG XII Conference title for the Jayhawks and finished sixth in the NCAA Championships. Just a few weeks later, Michael found himself in the final of the 2012 Olympic Trials, where he finished a more than respectable seventh.
After runner-up finishes at the NCAA Championships in 2013 and 2014, Michael was a man on a mission in 2015. He went undefeated his senior year in collegiate competition, ending his career with Kansas Jayhawks by winning the NCAA title in the 400m Hurdles. Two weeks later, in his first race as a professional athlete, Michael finished fourth at the US Championships, one spot out from a spot on the American squad for the IAAF World Championships.
While injury derailed his shot at the 2016 Olympic Games, Michael was determined to improve. After spending the fall building his endurance while training with the University of Kansas cross country team, Michael targetted the US Championships in Sacramento. In Sacramento, Michael drew the outside lane, but ran his own, measured race and moved from sixth to second over the final hurdle, securing his spot on Team USA at the IAAF World Championships in London.