Earl en route to mighty Big Ten after signing with Northwestern

November 30, 2020

Ava Earl of Girdwood has been one of Alaska’s best teenage runners over the last six years, collecting a bushel of medals from middle school and high school.

She’s also a rising star as a singer songwriter, recording three albums and performing her own music at major festivals.

“I write a lot of about running,” she said, “That’s something that makes me feel free.”

Earl, 17, doesn’t make her music about herself, but even if she did, she never would have scripted a scenario with her receiving a college scholarship to run in the mighty Big Ten Conference.

But sometimes real life imitates art.

Earl, of South High fame, is headed to the Power 5 conference after she signed with Northwestern University to run cross country and track and field. The school is located in Evanston, Illinois, right outside of Chicago.

“I’m super pumped,” she said. “I’m going to learn a lot. I am excited to push my limits and test myself.”

Earl has solid PRs of 4:57 in the mile and 17:57 in the 5K to go along with Cook Inlet Conference titles in cross country and the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 meters on the track.

In cross country, was always in the mix.

She was a two-time state runner-up and never placed worse than fourth in four years. At regions, she won titles as a freshman and sophomore, placed second as a senior and was third as a junior.

On the track, as a junior, she swept victories in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 at the region meet and then got second place in all three events at state.

No matter the distance, Earl is a threat to win.

Her crazy-good consistency piqued the interest of several college programs such as Lehigh, UC San Diego and Williams, but she eventually gave the nod to Northwestern.

She’s grateful to the Wildcats for believing in her and thankful to be finished with the recruiting process.

“I was all over the place,” she said with a laugh. “For a long time, I wasn’t confident things would fall into place so perfectly.”

In the new normal of COVID, the bulk of her recruiting took place on Zoom calls with coaches and athletes.

“I just liked the people from Northwestern. They seemed so down to earth,” Earl said. “And when they offered a partial scholarship, that sealed the deal because that means I could afford to go.”

She is thinking about majoring in science, but definitely not music.

Earl looks at being a musician and being a student as two worlds she intends to keep separate.

“I do it because it feels good,” she said of making music. “I just kind of do what feels right and I don’t want to mess with that.”