Sitting in the bleachers watching a track meet as just a young girl, Ashlee Moore already knew what she wanted to do.
She wanted to be a track star.
Now she will be competing on one of the world’s biggest stages.
Moore, a Chandler resident, recently won the USA Junior heptathlon title at the USA Outdoor Championships and earned herself a spot on Team USA for the junior world championships July 22-27 in Eugene, Ore.
After winning a national title, many would be ecstatic, elated, or any combination of emotions that one associates with winning. Moore however, was much more subdued after struggling in the javelin and 800-meter run at the outdoor championships.
“I was happy,” Moore said. “I didn’t think I was as happy as I would have been just because of my performance, but it was exciting. I was kind of surreal …
“It didn’t really seem like it was real, it just kind of seemed like it was another day.”
A natural athlete, Moore doesn’t only excel at track; she was also a standout on the basketball court, averaging 11 points and five rebounds per game as a senior at Hamilton High School this past season.
She started playing basketball as a way to spend time with her brother but she soon discovered she had a knack for it as well.
Hamilton basketball coach Jeff Kain first met Moore at the age of 10 and instantly recognized her athletic gifts, even if she didn’t quite have a handle on them just yet.
“She was an outstanding athlete even then. She was quick and fast” he said. “When she was young, she didn’t know how to use her athletic ability yet for the game of basketball. I mean, she would go so fast, her layups would literally bounce off the backboard.”
She blossomed into a good basketball player, one that caught the eye of college scouts. Even her hometown school, Arizona State University, was interested, but Kain always let the coaches and recruiters know that track came first.
It begs the question: how good could she have been at basketball had she committed just a smidge more of her time to it?
“I’ve always kind of joked with her on the basketball side and I’ve always told her from Day One if she would dedicate 10 more percent of her time to basketball, she probably would have been one of the best Division I recruits to come out of Arizona this year,” Kain said.
The idea had crossed Moore’s mind of trying to play two sports in college, but the pressure of being a dual-sport athlete at a Division I school just didn’t seem like the right fit.
“For the most part, I wasn’t into the whole two sports a lot,” Moore said. “Not everyone can do it. It takes a lot on your body, it’s just a lot (of work). There was one point where I wanted to, but I’d rather focus on one thing.”
With her heart set on track, the offers began rolling in for Moore, the first coming from University of Arizona
She had received numerous other track scholarships, including Georgia, which was a strong contender, but when the letter from the University of Oregon, an NCAA track juggernaut, came in, it was a done deal.
“It’s always been my dream to come here and to compete,” Moore said of running for the Ducks. “For it to actually happen and come true, there aren’t words that explain it.”
Moore will get the chance to run on her new home track at the world championships and is excited to get the chance to represent her home country at the place known as “Track Town USA.”
“To be able to represent the USA, not a lot of people get to say they did it,” she said. “I’m just really happy and ecstatic that I get to be a part of it.”
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