A look back at history: How Maggie Ewen became an ASU track and field sensation

Maggie Ewen will go down as an ASU track and field icon, and she is hoping that future Sun Devils will follow in her footsteps

It's hard to imagine that ASU redshirt senior thrower Maggie Ewen almost picked another sport over track and field.

This past weekend, Ewen became just the sixth female athlete in the history of the NCAA Outdoor Championships to win both the discus and shot put events.

Among just a few notable laurels, Ewen has three NCAA individual trophies, she has broken two collegiate records, and she was recently named the USTFCCCA National Co-Women's Field Athlete of The Year.  

Ewen won the 2018 CWSA Honda Award for track and field on Wednesday, and she is a semifinalist for the Bowerman Award, which goes to the top male and female athlete in collegiate track and field.

With so many accolades, it would be hard to comprehend that Ewen was destined for any other route besides being a track and field star. However, the Minnesota native came to a crossroads before becoming one of the best athletes in the history of Sun Devil Athletics.

"In 7th grade I almost picked softball over track and field," said Ewen. "One wrong decision and I could have never gone down this road."

However, that road for the 23-year-old all began in St. Francis, MN, a small town with an estimated population of 7,000 people.

Growing up in a family full of athletes, Ewen was sold on track and field when her sister, Alicia, brought home a track and field flyer when they were in elementary school. 

Although Ewen was too young to join the squad, she said she still tagged along and would join in drills, and she would sometimes throw.

In 2013 during Ewen's senior year at St. Francis High School, she set a personal record with a throw of 54 feet 8 inches in shot put, and she went on to claim a season record of 167 feet 1 inch in a discus throw during her state championships that earned her titles.

Things were a little different when Ewen got to ASU while she redshirted her freshman year. She placed 12th in discus and 22nd in shot put, which still earned her honorable mentions.

As the years went by and assistant coach Brian Blutreich took over men's and women's throws in 2016, things began to improve slowly for Ewen. She went from a hammer throw of 57 feet 3 inches, and an outdoor shot put throw of 16 feet 3 inches her freshman season, to NCAA records in her senior year. 

It was no easy task, as the biggest obstacle Ewen faced under Blutreich's coaching was as he described, "getting to believe in me after working with someone else for three years."

With 20 plus years of coaching experience and a handful of NCAA champions and Olympians, Blutreich's message to Ewen was simple: Keep everything basic.

"In terms of how much I give her to absorb, it takes years, so that was the biggest challenge," Blutreich said. "How much to give her without completely confusing her. Three events is the ultimate challenge." 

On top of everything Ewen has accomplished at ASU, including being stamped as the "greatest collegiate thrower of all-time" by Blutreich, an even bigger mark would be the everlasting influence she has left on her teammates. 

Samantha Noennig, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman thrower, worked closely with Ewen this season. At the outdoor championships, Noennig finished seventh in shot put, and she received All-America honors. 

"I think I have matured more when it comes to how to compete and train, and Maggie has taught me a lot about how to do those things the right way," Noennig said. "She has been through it all before, and can teach me from some of the experiences that she has had in her younger years."

Noennig hopes to be the role model Ewen was for her, and thinks she can pass down the wisdom she has learned to ASU's next class of incoming freshman this fall.

But now that Ewen has officially ended her throwing career at ASU, the question now is will anyone ever surpass her?

"My dad told me when I was younger, records are set to be broken," Ewen said with a laugh. "We want to raise the bar for the next generation so that they have something to chase. Eventually it's going to be not just a collegiate record or a national record, it's going to be a world record, and I want the best opportunity possible for that to happen."

For now, Ewen has her eyes set on training full-time until 2020, where the Olympics are possibly on her horizon.

Reach the reporter at Edith.Noriega@asu.edu or follow @Noriega_Edith on Twitter. 

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