DeKALB — Junior runner Ashley Tutt is making headlines early this season with individual victories at the Western Illinois University Early Bird meet and at the Northern Illinois Huskie Challenge.
The Huskie holds two NIU school records, as well as being the 2018 MAC Indoor Championships Freshman Track Performer of the Year and 2018 MAC Outdoor Championships Freshman Track Performer of the Year.
As a sophomore, Tutt earned 2018 Second Team All-MAC honors as well as 2018 Midwest All-Region honors.
The Northern Star interviewed Tutt on her career as a Huskie. The following are excerpts of that interview. They have been lightly edited for clarity and consistency.
Q: Throughout the recruitment process, what steered you toward NIU?
A: I wanted to stay close to home. I saw the success happening with the track team and now graduate runner Kelsey Hildreth. I really connected with Head Coach Adrian Myers on a personal level. He reminded me a lot of my other coaches, and I really liked the philosophy he was teaching.
Q: When you first arrived at NIU, what were your initial thoughts?
A: I didn’t have many. My expectations were just coming in and doing my best. I know [Coach Myers] had the expectation of winning a MAC title in a five-year time frame. [I just worked] on the little things to get to that level and learn from my experiences at the college level.
Q: At Minooka Community High School you ran with [junior runner Mackenzie Callahan] and now throughout college. What have been your experiences and the process with running with her?
A: It’s been really cool. Throughout high school, we always raced together right next to each other. Coming to college we would do workouts together, and having her to navigate college is really nice.
Q: How do you keep yourself motivated to continue running as time passes?
A: Running is something I love doing. It’s something I’ve been doing since fifth grade. What keeps us motivated is that we’re doing it for the team. There are 19 other girls out there counting on you to do your best, so you can’t give up just because you want to.
Q: The student-athlete life is hectic. Wake-up, class, practice, study and repeat. What is it about the student-athlete life that makes you keep fighting?
A: Just making my family and team proud keeps me going and knowing I’m still here to get a degree. It’s really hard to balance, but I make a schedule to make all work.
Q: In 2018 you participated in the U.S. Track and Field Junior Cross Country Team. What can you say about your experience with that team and how it helped you prepare for your collegiate career?
A: It was an amazing experience. It was really fun to compete in the national level and get some experience. Going to El Salvador helped me be prepared for bigger competitions and bigger environments.
Q: Myers talks very highly of the cross country program. What is it about this team that makes it special?
A: What I have noticed this year is how connected we are. We bond well on our own and do events on our own, and we want to do it on our own. We want to win that MAC championship for our seniors.
Q: What can we expect from you this season?
A: We’re hoping to win that MAC Championship as a team this year. Obviously, I want to win that individual MAC Championship and make it to nationals this year.