To say that Taylor Ewert is one in a million downplays how extraordinary the track and field standout from Beavercreek High School (Ohio) truly is—and it took about 30 seconds chatting with the Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year to understand that.
An hour removed from getting a surprise she’ll never forget—when a seemingly simple interview turned into a celebration—Taylor found herself in territory alongside names like Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Abby Wambach. But the calm that resonated through the phone wasn’t what you’d expect, especially considering what she had just experienced:
“My mom said I had a casual interview with ESPN, so got on the Zoom call—I was doing the interview—and then all of a sudden, she was in the corner with the Gatorade National Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year trophy,” Taylor explained to USA Today Sports.
With the help of Taylor’s mom, Teri, the in-home presentation took on a feel-good moment that sometimes only the impromptu can create. Taylor laughed a bit, and then paused, when asked if the top secret operation went down without any hitches—”I’m not someone who is very big on surprises, she admitted, “I always know what’s going on, I always have a plan.”
In other words—mission: accomplished.
The honor came against a pinnacle of talent in girls track and field, with over one million student athletes in consideration. Of the 51 other finalists this year, seven were All-American honorees, 40 volunteered at multiple organizations, and 25 carried a 4.0 GPA (or higher!).
But Taylor topped them all, and now has an opportunity to win Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year in July. And when you look at the resume, there’s little doubt as to why she is in such prestigious company:
- 3.49 GPA (weighted)
- Won the 1600-meter run (4:52.02) and the 3200-meter run (10:34.79) at the 2020 Division 1 indoor state meet.
- Named The Gatorade Ohio Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year.
- Won the two-mile event at the University of Kentucky High School Invitational in March (10:18.94), which ranked as the a top-3 performance among prep indoor competitors.
- Clocked U.S. Top 10 prep times in three indoor events in 2020 and U.S. Top 20 in three outdoor events in 2019.
- The state champion in the 3200 last spring, she also won the 2000-meter steeplechase at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor, while placing second in the mile and the 4×800 relay.
- Personal-best time in the steeplechase ranks seventh 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.
“Taylor is one of a kind and an absolute joy to coach,” her Beavercreek High School distance coach Howard Russ said in a statement. “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.”
And her off-field achievements and efforts, which are equally important to the Gatorade Player of the Year program, are just as impressive.
Behind the record-setting athleticism is a talented artist, one with an eye for detail. “I’m always working on art, little projects,” she explained as her tone turned to an excited reflection. “It’s a nice break from the running and training.”
When she’s not busy with training—which is in full force as she gets ready to head to the University of Arkansas in August—or working in watercolors, Taylor has also made time for the community. She’s been an altar server at Wright Patterson Air Force Base Chapel for six years, supported the homeless through AFB Chapel Youth Group, and has served as an inspirational speaker. Plus, she teaches a mini-class on race walking, even taking time during the interview to lend a little advice: “Stretch before, race walking puts a lot of strain on your hamstrings. So get in a good stretch.”
(Noted. And, thank you.)
Before our conversation ended, we talked briefly about her family. Her mom and dad (Brian) both were runners, and her two brothers (Ben and Connor) are also accomplished track and field standouts. So, of course, I had to know: Who would win the steeplechase?
Although it didn’t seem set in stone, Taylor placed herself at third, with her brothers ahead—”I think my form is better than theirs,” she clarified—followed by her mom, and then dad trailing last. “But,”—she stopped for a moment, the way you’d expect someone who’s searching for some positivity to do—”as long as you’re breaking a sweat, and you’re enjoying yourself…I think at the end of the day, that’s what counts.”
She’s more like one in two million.
(Special thanks to Taylor Ewert and Jason Belenke (Gatorade Player of the Year Program) for the interview. To see past winners and learn more about the Gatorade Player of Year check out the website here.)