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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Sprinting toward success

Photo by Photo courtesy of Gunnar Rathburn

FAYETTEVILLE, ARK – May 25, 2022 – Ashton Schwartzman during NCAA Track and Field West Regionals at John McDonnell Field in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Photo By Gunnar Rathburn

From growing up in small town Wild Rose, Wisconsin, with a population of around 700, to living his dreams as a college athlete, Texas A&M men’s track and field runner, Ashton Schwartzman, embodies hard work and proves his critics wrong.
In his sophomore year at A&M, Schwartzman has already made an impact as a runner on the men’s 4×400-meter relay team, for which he was awarded the 2022 First Team All-American Outdoor 4×400 in his freshman season. He has also competed in the 400-meter, where he has been successful, putting up the 11th-best time in school history in the outdoor 400 on June 25, 2022.
From a track perspective, Schwartzman is highly valued, and that doesn’t change when he steps off the track either.
“The thing about [Schwartzman] is he gets along with everybody,” said A&M track and field coach Pat Henry. “He just has that kind of personality. Everybody likes Ashton, men, women, everybody. He’s just done a good job.”
Having someone on your team that has great talent and hard work ethic is exactly what coach Henry is looking for.
“He’s a good student, but he’s also very competitive,” Henry said. “I got to watch him [in high school] and he’s driven to be successful, and that’s the kind of person you want.”
Jennifer Schwartzman, Ashton’s mother, said his determination is indescribable.
“When he loves something he is dedicated to it and is determined and he will become successful at it,” Jennifer said.
She also said his dedication and determination extend beyond the track and into his academics. He will be the first in his family to graduate college.
Ashton came to A&M to study forensic science but has since switched his major to sports management. Forensic science interested him, but coming from a small-town high school to a prestigious university can be a bit of a shock.
“I might go back to forensic science later on, hopefully after my pro career,” Ashton said. “If not, then I’ll probably either become an agent or I would love to do college coaching. I think that’d be really fun to do.”
Outside of school and track, Ashton loves spending time with family, something he picked up living in a small town. Now that he lives 1,200 miles away from his family, he said a hobby of his is getting to go back home.
“Other hobbies are just watching movies and hanging out with friends,” Ashton said.
Ashton said his family is an integral part of his life and his biggest motivator is his mother.
“She was the one in my early years of high school pushing me to do workouts,” Ashton said. “We’d be up at the track at 8 o’clock at night doing workouts just because she knew what I wanted, and she was going to help me get there.”
It is safe to say that all those late-night workouts paid off for Ashton, as he is now competing at the Division I level.
Although he is now at a high level, it wasn’t always perfect, Jennifer said. He began running track in the sixth grade, where she said he lost every race. He considered quitting track until he began working hard and improving in his seventh-grade year.
“He went out again his seventh-grade year and he told himself, I’m not going, to lose,” Jennifer said. “The kid worked hard and never lost another race and that’s when he fell in love with it.”
Before getting to A&M, Ashton had a strong high school career. He spent his first three years of high school at Wild Rose High School, where he won the state championship his freshman and sophomore years. Ashton also set the Wild Rose school records in the 200 and 400-meter.
For his final semester in high school, Ashton transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. At IMG, Ashton was coached by former Jamaican Olympian, Dwight Thomas. He said Thomas knows what he is talking about when it comes to track, so moving to IMG prepared him better for college athletics.
Leaving Wild Rose for his final semester was not easy for Ashton and his mother, but they knew that it was what was best for his career.
“Emotionally it was very hard for me, but yet I knew this was something that he needed to do because he was going to be going in six months anyway off to college,” Jennifer said. “It was something he wanted and I supported him.”
At the same time, Ashton made the decision to transfer to IMG, he was trying to make a decision about where he would spend his four years in college. Before ultimately choosing A&M, Ashton was, at one time, a North Carolina commit. He knew he wanted to go to an SEC school, so when SEC schools started to contact him, he decided to decommit.
“I think decommitting and committing to Texas A&M was definitely the right choice,” Ashton said.
After decommitting from UNC, Ashton narrowed his list of schools to Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina A&T and A&M. It ultimately came down to between the two Aggies — A&M and A&T — which Ashton said is an amazing choice for a 400 runner like himself.
He gave all four schools a chance, but after looking at everything, he decided to make College Station his next home.
“I’m glad I did it because the North Carolina A&T coach transferred to Tennessee, so I would have been moving schools anyways, so I think it was the right choice,” Ashton said.
Jennifer said that the choice he made about how to spend his college years was fully up to him.
“As far as doing research on schools and the programs, he asked me to help him and then we would prioritize what he thought was best about each program, but the decision was ultimately up to him,” Jennifer said.
Coach Henry and his career success is one of the major reasons Ashton chose A&M.
“A&M was one of his top schools because of coach Henry and the success that he’s had coaching the 400-meter,” Jennifer said. “That was his whole decision-making process on picking a college was the coaching aspect. He knew he needed the determination of a hard coach and he knew coach Henry was.”
Ashton also said he needed someone who would coach him as hard as his mother did. He didn’t want to have a coach who was going to sugarcoat things for him when they weren’t up to his expectations.
When Ashton and his mother would do their late-night training sessions at the track, he said they would get into lots of arguments and she pushed him hard.
“I grew up with that with my mom and then my personal trainers,” Ashton said. “I had two and they were both very hard on me, so I liked that and I liked that from coach Henry. I know what he’s done, how many Olympians he’s had, how many NCAA champions he’s had. I like that he’s tough on me because I feel like it’s getting me ready for the future of what I want.”
Ashton said he has big goals set for his future in track, such as qualifying for the United States World Championship 4×400 relay team for this summer’s World Athletics Championship in Hungary. He also hopes to qualify for the Olympics in two years in the open 400.
“That’s been a goal for the longest time,” Ashton said. “I’m usually the person that if I want something, I’ll do anything I can do to get it, so hopefully that will come.”
Ashton said he would eventually like to go pro and make money doing what he loves, running fast around the track. This is the year that Ashton originally wanted to go pro, but his mother wants him to get his degree first.
After deciding to complete his degree, Ashton said he is going to focus this season on getting more titles and letting the times come with it. Next season, he said he really wants to start working on his times so that he can start getting the results he needs to reach the goals he wants.
Being from a small town like Wild Rose, athletes aren’t expected to reach the level Ashton has made it to, he explained. Ashton said oftentimes he has been doubted by peers and people from his hometown.
“They were saying my dreams are too big, that I can’t reach them and being from a small town it would never happen,” Ashton said.
Despite people around him doubting his dreams, Ashton said he never let it get to him. Even when he started getting recruited, the doubters were still there, but this time they were college coaches.
“There were a lot of schools that told me I wasn’t D1 material,” Ashton said. “That was very hard to hear, just because that was the goal in high school, to go to a Division I school, so hearing that definitely hurt a lot.”
The drive and work ethic Ashton has for track have ever dwindled, despite the haters; if anything it gave him more motivation to get to where he is now, he said.
“He will prove you wrong just to prove you wrong and he will let you know that,” Jennifer said. “That kid is just so determined to become successful that he’ll do whatever it takes to become that.”
Ashton has already made it to a level that his doubters never thought he would. His mother said that he’s cautious around the people who doubted him and now like to claim that they know him.
Now, Ashton can reflect on the doubters of the past and the “fans” of the present being in a position they did not think he could reach.
“I look back now at what everyone else thinks just because they all said I wouldn’t make it here and I’m here, but there’s much more to go,” Ashton said. “There’s a lot more to go.”

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