BEAVERCREEK — When her final high school track and field season was cancelled due to the coronavirus, Taylor Ewert was among the most disheartened.
“I was really disappointed,” the recent Beavercreek graduate said. “I really wanted to go out with a bang my senior year.”
Turns out that happened. Just not actually on the track.
Ewert was named the Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year in a surprise ceremony at her home on Tuesday, giving her the proper ending to four unforgettable years at Beavercreek that included myriad state titles, and state and national accolades.
“It’s a lot easier to close a chapter on high school now with this award,” Ewert said. “I put a lot of hard work in. Everything was over so quickly and I had a lot of things I had left out on the table.”
The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field, distinguishes Ewert as the nation’s best high school girls track and field athlete. 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.
She is just the second from Ohio to win the national honor — Emily Pendleton from the Sandusky area won in 2006-07.
“One of the most prestigious awards in high school sports,” Ewert said. “I never thought I would be able to join that list and so now I’m here and I’m very happy.”
A soon-to-be freshman at the University of Arkansas, Ewert had no idea the award was coming. She was recently named Gatorade’s Ohio award winner and thought she was getting on a video call to be interviewed about that. She was asked what it would mean to win the national award.
“Then all of the sudden my mom’s behind me with the trophy,” Ewert said. “It’s massive. It’s about 20 pounds. I think I was almost in kind of disbelief. I was just so shocked, that despite such a crazy season I was able to be recognized and win this award. It was definitely a big surprise.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been that unexpected.
Ewert won the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run in 10:34.79 at the 2020 Division-I indoor state meet. She won the two-mile event at the University of Kentucky High School Invitational in March — which ranked as the nation’s No. 3 performance among prep indoor competitors this past winter. She clocked U.S. Top 10 prep times in three indoor events in 2020 and U.S. Top 20 in three outdoor events in 2019. Ewert was also the D-I Ohio state champ in the grueling 3,200-meter run last spring and the champ in the 2000-meter steeplechase at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor. Her personal-best time in the steeplechase ranks No. 7 in prep history, and she’s also ranked in the all-time Top 35 for the indoor two-mile and the all-time Top 50 in the outdoor mile among high school girls. She holds seven national high school records in race-walking as well as seven American U20 records in that sport and is a two-time cross country D-I state champ.
“Taylor is one of a kind and an absolute joy to coach,” said Beavercreek High School distance coach Howard Russ. “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.”
Ewert is now a finalist for the Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year award, which is announced in July.
“That feels pretty crazy,” Ewert said. “There’s definitely a lot of other talented athletes out there.”
But experts rank Ewert right up there with the best.
“Taylor possesses a unique skill set we haven’t seen from any prep athlete in the sport for at least two decades,” said Erik Boal, an editor for DyeStat, a leading high school track and field website. “In addition to her unparalleled success as an American Junior (U20) in the race walk, holding the record in seven distance categories, she has also showcased the capacity to match strides with any of her elite peers in the steeplechase — where she clocked a World Top 25 time among women of all ages in 2019 (2,000 meters) — as well as traditional distance races in cross country and track. Her meticulous preparation, unconditional dedication and relentless determination are qualities that led her to Arkansas, and will eventually take her incredible journey to the Olympic games.”
Ewert said she has qualified for the Olympic trials and hopes to make it to the 2021 Tokyo games. But for now, she’s concentrating on this year.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to have a regular cross country season at the University of Arkansas,” she said.
And a chance to start her college career with a bang.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.