Taylor Ewert just thought she was doing a casual interview with ESPN about some of her past success as a runner. She was surprised when her mother came up behind her with a massive, 20-pound trophy.
The recent Beavercreek High School graduate was named the 2019-20 Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year, and her family informed her of the news Tuesday morning by presenting her with the trophy that comes along with the honor.
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The award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field, and it distinguishes Ewert as the nation’s best high school girls track and field athlete.
“I think I was almost in kind of disbelief,” Ewert said on a conference call with local media, noting she planned to celebrate with an afternoon run. “I was just so shocked that despite such a crazy season I was still able to be recognized and win this award.”
Ewert was named the Gatorade Ohio Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year in the fall and continued that success into indoor track. She won the 1600-meter and 3200-meter run events at the 2020 Division I indoor state meet and clocked U.S. Top 10 prep times in three indoor events in 2020, including the nation’s No. 3 performance when she won the two-mile event at the University of Kentucky High School Invitational in March with a time of 10:18.94.
The University of Arkansas signee was looking to defend her outdoor state title in the 3200-meter run this spring before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. She posted U.S. Top 20 time in three outdoor events in 2019 and also won the 2000-meter steeplechase at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor, while placing second in the mile and the 4x800 relay.
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Ewert’s personal-best time in the steeplechase ranks No. 7 in prep history, and she holds seven national high school records in race-walking as well as seven American U20 records in that sport.
“When I found out I wasn’t going to have a regular season and my final year was going to be cut short by COVID, I was really disappointed,” Ewert said. “I put a lot of hard work in, and I really wanted to go out with a bang my senior year. I felt like everything was over so quickly and I had a lot of things left on the table that I never really got to finish. There were some records I still wanted to get, and it was tough to not be able to finish the rest of my season with my team. We were all kind of in shock, but to be able to find out kind of in the middle of summer that I was able to win this award, like I said, it was just amazing. I’m still in disbelief with it all. It definitely does make it easier to close the chapter on high school now with this award.”
A national advisory panel comprised of sport-specific experts and sports journalists helped select Ewert from more than one million other student-athletes who compete in girls track and field nationwide. Ewert is now a finalist for the most prestigious award in high school sports, the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, which is announced in July.
In the 35th year of the award program, Ewert topped the list of 51 state winners in girls track and field, including seven with All-American honors, 40 who volunteer at two or more organizations and 25 with GPAs of 4.0 or higher. She joins an impressive group of former Gatorade Award winners who went on to combine for 72 gold medals and 33 National Championships. Past winners in other sports were Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach, Karl-Anthony Towns and Derek Jeter.
Also a talented artist, Ewert has been an altar server at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Chapel for six years, and she’s supported the homeless through AFB Chapel Youth Group. She has also served as an inspirational speaker for summer program athletes at West Liberty-Salem High School in addition to volunteering as a meet official and instructor for middle school athletes with her track club as well as donating her time at the Beavercreek XC Camp for elementary athletes, teaching a mini-class on race walking.
Ewert maintained a weighted 3.49 GPA in the classroom.
“Taylor is one of a kind and an absolute joy to coach,” Beavercreek High School distance coach Howard Russ said in a press release. “The quality that really makes her different from other athletes is her attention to details. She’s the most driven athlete that I’ve ever coached.”
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