Tutt becoming player to watch

By Jayce Eustice

Freshman distance runner Ashley Tutt is becoming someone to watch now and for many years to come.

Tutt said she attributes a lot of her success this season to the confidence that has been instilled in her by her coaches and teammates.

She performed well in her first career MAC Championship Feb. 24, as she placed fifth in the 3,000-meter run and eighth in the 5,000-meter run, scoring points for her team in both events.

Tutt’s performance was impressive enough to earn her the honor of MAC Track Freshman of the Year to add to the trophy shelf alongside her MAC Cross Country Freshman of the Year award.

Even with all of these accolades, the most impressive might be earning a spot on Team USA where she participated for the 2018 NACAC Under 20 Cross Country Championships. Tutt won the qualifying 6K event with a time of 21:08.5. She then helped Team USA to a second place finish at the championships.

It is not often that a freshman comes on to the scene and has an instant impact in his or her sport. For Tutt’s coaches, her early success is no surprise. Adrian Myers, cross country head coach and track assistant coach, said Tutt’s ability to stay focused has been key to her early collegiate success.

“Ashley’s coachability and love for what she does elevated her game more than anything I’ve brought to the table,” Myers said. “She loves the day to day and is able to take things one step at a time. She’s able to find a midline between the good days and the bad days.”

Since coming into the track and cross country programs at NIU, Tutt said she immediately bought into what coaches wanted her to do and trusted them. Tutt has shown throughout the season that her attention to detail and willingness to do little things right have made a world of difference for her.

“It’s so hard to come in from high school, sometimes you second-guess the coaches, but she came right in and believed in what they were doing,” said Track Head Coach Connie Teaberry. “She just kept working hard at it, grinding and ended up all-region and doing well at the Conference Championships.”

Even with high praises from her coaches, Tutt’s drive to improve each and every day hasn’t wavered. Tutt said her team members are what helped her ultimately achieve the goals of representing team USA and performing well throughout her freshman year.

“It makes everything a lot easier when you have a big goal in mind,” Tutt said. “If you’re not working toward anything then it can be hard to keep going. [Myers] kept telling me all along, ‘You’re going to win the Florida race’. He just had so much confidence in me.”

The mutual trust between coaches and athletes can make a huge difference in the levels of performance, and it has showed with Tutt. With two Freshman of the Year awards and a spot on team USA already under her belt, the future for Tutt and NIU Track and Field/Cross Country seems bright.

“I see her making national championships and making runs for All-American honors,” Myers said. “Not only that but I think she can run for a MAC title as a sophomore next fall. I think the sky’s the limit for her.”

With the indoor season behind her, all eyes now turn to what Tutt will be able to accomplish in the second half of the season.