Tutt leads Huskies by example

By Eddie Garcia

Sophomore distance runner Ashley Tutt’s selfless mentality opened up her opportunity for continued success, far beyond her career as a Huskie.

Tutt, a lead-by-example competitor, is coming off a first year campaign, in which she earned the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year Award for both Cross Country and Track and Field.

The runner has numerous accolades under her belt, including participation with Team USA in which she was a member of the 2018 NACAC Under 20 Cross Country Championships.

Tutt won the qualifying event with a time of 21:08.5 and helped Team USA to a second-place finish at the Championships.

Fast forward to this year, and Tutt has jumped out to an even better start than her first-year season, having already earned a MAC Runner of the Week award Sept. 18.

Head Coach Adrian Myers said Tutt’s early career success is a testament to the type of person she is.

“She wants everyone to come along,” Myers said. “She would rather our team be successful than herself. Those are both qualities of a great leader.”

Tutt recently finished inside the top 100 at No. 77 in the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational Sept. 28, where she and her fellow Huskies competed against 33 overall teams, including 16 nationally ranked programs.

Despite early career achievements, Tutt remains focused on the big picture for herself and her team.

“I just want to go out there and do the best I can for my team,” Tutt said. “Winning a MAC title is our biggest goal so far this year.”

Winning the MAC title will be a difficult mountain to climb, but Tutt understands it takes a collaborative effort to make their goal a reality.

Tutt said her selflessness began in high school after her team went undefeated in conference all four seasons at Minooka High School and won a state championship during her junior season.

“You can’t win a state championship without having the entire team in mind,” Tutt said. “I have always been about the team; my high school coach instilled that in me, and that will always be my focus.”

Tutt said she ran six days a week this summer at a higher mileage and completed some cross training on her off day. Her ultimate goal was to remain consistent, as she would reach up to 65 miles per week in preparation for the long season.

She said her everyday goal is to try to rally all of her teammates together and help them out as much as she can.

“I definitely see myself as a leader,” Tutt said. “I hope [my teammates] see me that way as we are all trying to accomplish the same goal and become MAC champs.”

Tutt said she tries to be a lead-by-example type of leader as she initiates the stretches at the beginning of each practice to get the team ready to compete on a regular basis.

She said she tries to help out her teammates as much as she can, and when she sees one of them down, she gives them a pep talk.

The words “leader” and “sophomore” aren’t typically used in the same sentence, but Tutt’s humble attitude and competitive nature prove leadership can come in a variety of forms.

Myers said he believes Tutt’s future is limitless, and his expectations have grown over the past year and a half of working with her.

“She is one of the biggest total packages I have ever worked with,” Myers said. “She is not afraid of anyone. She’ll go at anyone, [and] that is what is going to make her great.”

Although Tutt is only a sophomore, she said she’s thought about the future, and her dream is to become a pro runner and make it to the Olympics.

With her continued success as a leader early on, her dream may not be far from reality.

“I don’t know how that big of a heart was ever put in that small of a body,” Myers said.