In both the classroom and running track, Liberty standout Ashley Ross has shown a knack for getting things done in a quick and efficient manner.
She maintains a 4.4 GPA and will be graduating a year early to attend the Naval Academy in the fall.
She first plans to add to her impressive track resume as she closes out her high school career competing in four events (200 meters, 400, 800 relay, 1600 relay) at this week's Class 2A state track and field championships. The No. 2 Lions are the defending champions.
Ross grew up playing volleyball, and her original plan as a freshman was to compete in track to stay in shape for that sport. But running won her over and became her entire focus athletically. During the indoor season, Ross captured her first individual state championship in the 300 to lead the Lions to a state title. Ross has won nine Carroll County championships throughout her career and holds the county records in the 200 and 400. This spring, she has the fastest time in the 400 and second fastest in the 200 among the Class 2A ranks.
What will it take to bring home some state titles?
It's really just a matter of desire and truly putting the work in. If you really want it and you push yourself then it will pay off.
How do you get yourself ready for a big race?
There's no excuses — you don't feel pain anymore. You just kind of go for it, trust yourself, and let yourself go to new places.
What was the feeling like after winning the 300-meter state title in the indoor season?
It was pretty unbelievable. All season, I was just telling myself I wasn't going to stop until I get it, and that's pretty much how I've approached this season. So it was an unbelievable feeling, and I can't wait to get it again — that's the goal.
What do you enjoy most about running?
I just like how independent you can be and how much you can work on it on your own. I train at home and just love the feeling. It has helped give me a great work ethic.
How has the discipline required in running helped you in other facets of life?
You really learn how to time-manage and how important little things are. How important it is to just really go for things. In school, I knew if I didn't get good grades, I couldn't run, so it gave me a high standard and really helped me toward college.
You're set to graduate a year early and go to the Naval Academy, how did that all work out?
I always wanted to leave high school early, kind of like a pipe dream, so I figured let's go for it. And the Naval Academy has been my goal since I can remember, so I applied, put in the work and I was just amazed and happy. I feel so happy being in the company of those people. I doubled up on math, and I took a lot of AP classes. It was just a matter of pushing extra, and it's been worth it.
What is it about the Naval Academy?
I love the challenge. I wanted to go somewhere where I knew I was going to transform and have the time of my life, and I really like the structure and discipline it offers.
What do you plan to major in?
I want to major in aerospace engineering, and I want to be a fighter pilot. I like to do crazy things I guess.
Why do you want to become a fighter pilot?
I looked into all the different things you can do and realized it's such a high-pace thing and gutsy thing to do. I always wanted to serve my country, so if I was going to serve my country I wanted to do something big to make a lasting impact.
What's the best advice you've received?
If you want it bad enough, you can do it and also never sell yourself short. With track, it's really mental with how you run and race, so I would always sell myself mentally and once I got that through my head, I was like 'OK I can do this.' You really have to believe in yourself.