MISSOULA — Ashley McElmurry left Missoula Sentinel High School as one of the most decorated track and field athletes in school history.
She took her talents to the University of Nebraska's track and field team, and in this past season she saw her most successful indoor and outdoor campaigns to date.
"It was really awesome, it was super exciting. It's kind of the equivalent of a state meet in high school getting to place top three at a conference meet," McElmurry told MTN Sports. "It was definitely fun the first time it happened because I was like I can't believe I did this, I can't believe it was me that got this place so that was pretty cool."
In her third year at Nebraska, McElmurry finished in second place at the Big 10 Indoor Track and Field Championships in the triple jump in February, an improvement on her third-place finish from the year before.
Then in the outdoor season, McElmurry advanced to the NCAA regional meet for the first time in her college career in both the long and triple jumps.
"I think this year I knew that I didn't want to sit out and watch my teammates compete at regionals and not be there," McElmurry said. "And I knew a lot of the things I really needed to work on this season in order to achieve that goal and so I really tried to focus on that this season and it was really awesome to see that pay off."
It was a culmination of McElmurry's work and adjustments to the college level that began to take off this season.
"When you go into a college sport at the beginning and you come in as a freshman, you think you know stuff and think, 'Oh I must know something if I got here,' but I think a big realization for me was how long I had to go and how much improvements I had to make," McElmurry said.
While she moved to a town and state where she didn't know anyone, McElmurry's decision to pursue track and field at a larger school in the Big 10 Conference proved to be a good one as she settled in and showed she could compete at the highest level.
"But it was also the best thing that could've happened to me because I met a lot of really awesome people, really great friends, really great coaches and it really forced me to get outside of my comfort zone and start building a life for myself in a different place which has been so cool and so fun and I'm so thankful I've had the opportunity to do that," McElmurry said.
Now, the former Spartan heads into the offseason where she took some time off and will then focus on strength training, technique and conditioning, as she prepares for her fourth year as a Husker. McElmurry has two seasons left to compete with Nebraska.
"It's so fun and I had really great high school coaches and a really great support system," McElmurry said. "It's been fun to carry in my Montana roots to being at Nebraska or in the Big 10. It's just been awesome and I'm so glad I'm from Missoula."