Updated: 2 days ago
Taylor Ewert is one of the most dynamic high school distance running talents in the United States. Not only does she boast personal bests of 2:15 (800), 4:48 (mile), 10:17 (3200), and 16:57 (5k), but Ewert also owns top marks in events like the 2000 meter steeplechase (6:33) and the 3k/5k/10k racewalk. We caught up with the New Balance national champion and three-time cross country All-American (once Foot Locker, twice NXN) to discuss her recent commitment to the University of Arkansas...
The Stride Report: We'll get to your college decision in a moment, but let's chat about all of your success at the high school level. You have displayed incredible range on the track and have been, without question, one of the top cross country runners in the nation. What has allowed you to be so dominant in each season of competition?
Taylor Ewert: In my opinion, what has allowed me to dominate/stay competitive in each season is simply consistency. It starts with taking the appropriate amount of time off to rest the body and mind at the end of each season. Then, from there, beginning to slowly build up a strong base and not rushing the process. Each season, my goal is to become the best athlete that I can be by consistently staying healthy and staying consistent in my training and dedication to the sport. It’s allowed me to not only accomplish the goal of becoming the best athlete I can be, but also becoming one of the “best” in my sport. Of course, there are always highs and lows, but consistency and the ability to keep showing up is what I would say has allowed me to stay competitive.
I would also have to add that being confident in your training and trusting that plan plays a big role as well. When you trust your training and you know what you are capable of doing...that kind of confidence becomes unstoppable!
TSR: You're not the typical high school distance runner when it comes to event selection. You have ventured into non-traditional races like the steeplechase and racewalk. What prompted you to try those events?
Taylor: I ventured into these events because I enjoyed them and it was a chance for me to challenge myself in other ways than just straight running. I picked up both the racewalk and steeplechase from doing a youth summer track club when I was younger. I grew up racewalking and it just stuck. For the steeplechase, my dad ran that event in college and I grew up watching my older brother, Ben, also run the steeplechase. It’s always something I wanted to do, so I tried it and it stuck as well.
TSR: Throughout your high school career, you have finished 3rd and 18th at NXN, 4th at Foot Locker, have become a five-time New Balance national champion (twice in the racewalk indoors, once in the racewalk outdoors, and twice in the steeplechase), and have won numerous state titles. Out of all of these accomplishments, which are you most proud of? Is there any race in particular that really boosted your confidence or made you realize your potential?
Taylor: I would have to say the biggest race for me that boosted my confidence, or made me believe what hard work could accomplish, was probably the first time I qualified for NXN and my first steeplechase national title.
Qualifying for NXN was something I dreamed of maybe doing by my senior year. Then to have it happen my sophomore year was so unexpected. It really opened my eyes to a whole new world of competition. From there, I was hooked and it motivated me even more!
My first steeplechase national title was similar. The win took place the same year after I qualified for NXN for the first time. My goal going into that steeplechase race was to just place in the top three. I remember crossing the line being so surprised that I had finished 1st. At the time, it was shocking, but then after reflecting on the race, it made sense. I had put in a lot of hard work going into the meet and I was ready to pop.
Both of those races just gave me the confidence that if I worked hard and believed in myself, I could possibly accomplish more than I had originally thought.
TSR: Alright, let's talk college. You recently committed to the University of Arkansas. What will you be studying?
Taylor: I will be studying exercise science with a minor in nutrition. I am hoping to one day become a physical therapist and work with athletes.
TSR: Who were the other schools you were talking to? What made Arkansas standout?
Taylor: The other schools I talked to were Oregon, Colorado, Michigan, New Mexico, and Notre Dame. Arkansas stood out to me because of the combination of consistency in the program and the coaching. I wanted a school that would help take me to the next level and Arkansas just felt like the right fit for that goal.
TSR: Arkansas is a consistent powerhouse distance program in the NCAA. In the eyes of many, they are the favorites to win the national team title in cross country this fall. Talk a little bit about the prestige of this group and how much that impacted your decision to join the Razorbacks.
Taylor: Arkansas being a powerhouse definitely influenced my decision. When looking at schools, I wanted to go to a program where I would be surrounded by hard working and talented teammates. I also wanted a program where I knew that I would be apart of something bigger than myself. Arkansas offered all of that, along with being the national title favorites this year. That really backs up my reasoning for committing.
TSR: What was your conversation like with coach Lance Harter? What made you realize that he would be the best coach for you?
Taylor: I talked to a lot of coaches and when I talked to Coach Harter, I knew something was different. He was really honest and acted himself. I didn’t feel like he was putting up any front or was just telling me what I wanted to hear. I felt that I could trust him as a coach and he would support me as his athlete if I committed.
Coach Harter was also all-in on the full package of racewalking and running. Even though in college I plan on focusing mainly on my running during the four year cycle before the 2024 Olympics, he was very open to allowing me to racewalk in college.
In his words, he told me something along the lines of, "Racewalking can provide you with so many opportunities, so why would you want to close that door?” When Coach Harter said that, I knew it was a match and that he would support me and do what was best for accomplishing my goals as an individual.
TSR: Tell us a little bit about your experience with meeting and talking with the team. Was there anything (or anyone) that stood out to you?
Taylor: My experience going to Arkansas was great. Beside the coaching being a great fit, the team atmosphere there was so welcoming and kind. The team seemed all like-minded, well-rounded, and dedicated. On my visit, I could really see myself growing as an athlete and a person if I became a part of the team.
What also stood out was the campus and location. Location wasn’t something I thought would play a part in my decision at all, but Arkansas felt like home. It was beautiful and I could see myself being feeling very comfortable there (even though I would be a 10 hour drive away from my actual home in Ohio).
TSR: When did you realize that Arkansas was where you wanted to be? Was it a relatively easy decision or did it take time to weigh your options?
Taylor: I don’t want to say it was an easy decision, but I had already narrowed it down to New Mexico or Arkansas. On the flight home after my visit to Arkansas is when I knew that it was going to be the right school for me. I took time to weigh my options to make sure I was making the right choice. That choice just ended up being Arkansas and my parents/coaches also agreed that Arkansas would be the best for me as well.
TSR: Give us your recruiting pitch for other top recruits to come to Arkansas.
Taylor: My recruiting pitch to other top recruits to come to Arkansas is to look at the history and data. Arkansas has 45 NCAA wins and I am sure that list will continue to grow. Beside the 45 wins, Coach Harter is incredibly well decorated with accomplishments. He has taken athletes and helped them become not only All-Americans, but NCAA champions, Olympians, and successful pro athletes. Not a lot of programs or coaches can say that when it comes to distance running.
TSR: What advice would you give to other athletes who are going through the college recruiting process?
Taylor: My advice to other athletes would be to take the time to do the research on the program you're interested in. Make sure the school is the right fit for you and has the facts to back it up. I would also make sure to not get caught up in the glitz and glammer of recruiting. Stay focused on what you are looking for and what you need to succeed...not what you want.
TSR: Any final comments? Shout-outs?
Taylor: My only shout-out would be to the other college coaches I got the pleasure of getting to know. They deserve a shout-out because before I chose Arkansas, they took the time to get to know me and tell me about their program. Most of these colleges also took time away from their team and lives to do home visits or provide official visits. I am grateful for the time I got to spend getting to know each coach and program even though, at the end of the day, I didn’t end up committing to their school. The other coaches were polite and understanding. So shout-out to those coaches for not only their hospitality, but their politeness and dedication to their job.