It all began at Evergreen Middle School during Ethan Ashley’s eighth-grade year.
Ashley developed a friendly rivalry with one of his soccer buddies who ran track. “It was about like, ‘Oh, I could totally beat you’… he ran distance, which is how I got into distance running,” he said.
When the Redmond High runners visited Evergreen to draw athletes into the high-school world, Ashley leaned toward the sport even further and has been involved in track and cross country ever since.
In July, Ashley — who graduated from Tesla STEM High in June — displayed his skills for the second consecutive summer at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic National Championships in Sacramento, California. In 2017, he competed at the cross country Junior Olympic nationals.
Last month at nationals, he finished 16th in the 2000-meter steeplechase (6:46) and 19th in the 3000-meter run (9:17, a personal record).
While Ashley’s goal was to reach the top-eight podium, “I think I still ran pretty well. My two finishes put me in the top half of the field in each event, so I was happy with that overall,” he said.
Ashley — whose PR in the steeplechase is 6:41 — qualified for nationals at the Junior Olympic Pacific Northwest Region 13 meet with a second-place finish in the 3000 (9:27) and a third-place mark in the steeplechase (6:46).
Motivation and diligence have been on Ashley’s side while qualifying for three Junior Olympic nationals.
“I care a lot about running and I wanna succeed and compete and make it to these national-caliber events and really demonstrate that I have that talent in running,” he said.
When it comes to the steeplechase, Ashley enjoys the challenge of participating in the unique event, which features runners jumping over five barriers — including a water pit — on each lap.
“It’s a super technical event with getting over the barriers, not tripping, managing the water jump as well as competing with the people around you,” said Ashley, adding that the event breaks up the monotony of running regular laps.
Ashley, who ran track and cross country for four years at RHS and runs with the Cascade Striders Track and Field Club, will attend the University of California San Diego this fall. He’ll focus his studies on chemical engineering and isn’t sure if school or club running is on the docket.
The Reporter asked Ashley a series of questions to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into his life:
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Focus on what you can control and manage yourself, and do the best at what you can do, and just being yourself (in running and in life).
What’s something unique about yourself that maybe people don’t know about?
I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute. Kind of like an odd hobby/skill that I can kind of still do (since middle school).
If you could go to dinner with one person, who would that be?
I would go with my favorite runner whose name is Evan Jager, he also does steeplechase, he’s the top American at steeplechase. It would be really cool to have dinner with him and talk to him and learn how he got to where he is as a professional runner.
What inspires you — a person, song lyric, a movie?
My teammates and the guys I’ve run with at Redmond. It’s inspired me to do my best at running and as a person.
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
I really like the “Avengers: Infinity War.”