AUSTIN – Goliad’s favorite daughter is an NCAA national champion.
University of Texas’ Ashtin Zamzow, a 2014 alumna of Goliad High School, broke her own school record en route to winning the heptathlon championship at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at her team’s home facility, Mike A. Myers Stadium, on June 8.
“It’s honestly been an indescribable feeling,” Zamzow said about winning the title.
“Winning a national championship is something I’ve always dreamed about, but I thought it would just be a dream because it’s such an incredible feat.
“To now be among the top few athletes in the country to receive such a prestigious award is beyond belief, and I thank God every day for it.”
Zamzow racked up 6,222 points on her way to beating out Texas A&M’s Tyra Gittens for the national title.
She broke her own school mark for points in the event and now owns the top seven heptathlon scores in Longhorn history.
Her winning total is the ninth-best total in collegiate history.
She set her personal best in the 100-meter hurdles, the 200 and the long jump and matched her personal best in the high jump en route to winning the national crown, which is the first in the event in the history of Longhorn athletics.
“This year has taken me by a huge surprise and has literally swept me off my feet,” she said. “To have been able to accomplish every goal I set this year was absolutely incredible – especially since injuries are so common in the multis and can take you out of the game so quickly.
“I’ve also been so incredibly thankful and blessed this year with the support and coaching I’ve received from the new staff, trainers and teammates. I honestly couldn’t have done anything this year without them keeping me healthy and pushing me every day in practice.”
Gittens led Zamzow by 161 points after the first four events June 7.
The next day, Zamzow finished first in the javelin and sixth in the long jump, while Gittens won the long jump, but finished 18th in the javelin.
That combination of finishes moved Zamzow into the lead in the event.
She sealed the win in the 800 with a time of 2 minutes, 21.31 seconds.
“As a parent, it’s every dream come true to see your daughter down there accomplishing her goals,” said Zamzow’s father, Stacy, who himself was a college track star at Texas A&M and is now a teacher and coach at Goliad ISD.
“To do what she did was just incredible. Unbelievable.
“It was just like I was on Cloud 9. I was so happy for her.”
Stacy was one of the first people to talk to Ashtin after her win when the two embraced in the stands.
“I just said, ‘I’m so happy for you; congratulations, you’ve earned every bit of this,” Stacy said about what he told his daughter.
She also shared an embrace with her soon-to-be-husband and fellow Longhorn track athlete Wolf Mahler.
“Rushing to the stands after the 800 to embrace my dad and fiance Wolf was the most special moment of the entire meet for me,” she said. “It reminded me of the Texas Relays three years ago when I hugged them both after breaking the heptathlon school record for Texas.
“It was the perfect way to end the most important meet in my collegiate career.”
The win gave Zamzow the clean sweep of the indoor and outdoor national titles in the heptathlon. She won the indoor national title in March in Alabama.
Last week, she picked up another honor when she was named a semifinalist for The Bowerman, which is presented annually to the most outstanding male and female NCAA track and field athletes in the nation by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The other semifinalists for the award are USC’s Anglerne Annelus and Chanel Brissett, Arkansas’ Janeek Brown, Florida’s Yanis Davis, Oregon’s Jessica Hull, Oklahoma State’s Sinclaire Johnson, Boise State’s Allie Ostrander, LSU’s Sha’Carri Richardson and North Carolina A&T’s Kayla White.
Zamzow is just the second Longhorn on the women’s side to be named a semifinalist for the honor, joining Courtney Okolo, who was twice a semifinalist and the winner of the award in 2016.
The Bowerman will be handed out in mid-December at the 2019 USTFCCCA Convention in Orlando, Florida.
Zamzow’s next stop will be Des Moines, Iowa, though.
“The next track meet for me will be in Des Moines, Iowa, for the USA Championships, which is exciting because it’ll include all of the professional athletes,” she said. “I’m hoping to make a USA Team after that meet, which could either be the World Championships in Qatar or Thorpe Cup in Germany depending on how I place at USA’s.”
Kevin J. Keller is a sports reporter at the Advance-Guard Press and can be reached at 361-343-5223, or at sports@mySouTex.com.