What if I told you that this NCAA season, one of the fastest 10,000-meter runners nationally was a former Rochester Century graduate, who didn't run track and only ran in one state meet, finishing 83rd.
This season Ava Nuttall a junior at Miami University in Ohio was a 2nd Team All-American after finishing 11th in the 10,000m race at the NCAA DI Outdoor Track and Field Championships, set a Mid-American Conference and Ohio University record in the 10K, and broke the school record for the 5K.
This is all from a runner who only qualified for one state meet in high school and never ran track and field in Minnesota.
Nuttall graduated from Rochester Century with just that one state meet appearance on her resume and a 5K PR of 19:04.30. She has gone from that to a standout track and XC runner with collegiate PRs of 17:21 for the 5K (XC), 16:15 for the 5K (Track), and a 33:10 10K (Track) runner.
We caught up with Nuttall to discuss her rise as a XC/Distance runner, her roots in Minnesota, and what's next for her.
Going back to high school, what was the college recruiting process like for you and how did you end up choosing to run for Miami University?
I had received a call from the coaches and they had spoken to me about Miami as a university as well as a running program and when I went on a visit to the campus, I saw how beautiful it was. I also met with the coaches and immediately felt comfortable and that it was the right fit for me. I had also spoken with some girls on the team and they showed me how connected and supportive the team is.
You have had a meteoric rise as a runner at Miami University, what do you attribute your success to?
I would say the main attribute that has helped me so much is the love of running as a whole, not about the times or the awards but that everyday no matter what I get to do what I love.
What was it like to qualify for and run in the NCAA DI National Track and Field Championships in the 10k?
It was surreal to qualify, even now I think about how exciting it was just even be there and feel the energy of the stadium.
You ended up finishing 11th place in the 10K, earning 2nd Team All-American Honors. What does that mean to you?
Finishing 11th was very exciting for me however I feel that I definitely want more and that I need to work that much harder to get the goals I have for myself.
In high school, you only went to one state meet and now have been to the NCAA DI Championships. What has enabled you to make this rise from Century High School all the way to the top of the college ranks?
I would say that the main factor for me was my quality of coaches and teammates, they are very supportive and push me to be the best I can be.
You just completed your junior season for Miami, what kind of goals do you have now after such a successful year?
My goals are somewhat the same in theory. I want to go to nationals and get faster in my events but ultimately continue working to see how far I can go, literally and figuratively.
What advice would you offer to recent graduates who are planning to run at the collegiate level?
My main advice would be to trust the process and find a program that suits you as an individual as well as a place that makes you feel like home.
What advice would you offer to runners who want to follow this same path to success as you have?
I am still relatively new to running so I have a lot to learn however in my experience listening to your coaches and your body is the best path for success. Health and well-being is vital to success in this sport and doing what is good for your body and taking care of it such as recovery/nutrition/sleep is essential.