Skip to main content


John’s Journal: 10 Years Later, Maggie Ewen Is Still Throwing

Goals Remain The Same For St. Francis Track And Field Recordholder

Posted: Sunday, April 30, 2023 - 3:12 PM


Maggie Ewen competes in a coed indoor shot put event during the Drake Relays.






Maggie Ewen signs autographs at the Drake Relays.

On an April day in 2012, high school track and field star Maggie Ewen was being interviewed when she made a statement that says everything about athletes who throw things: “My goals are just to throw an inch farther than my best.”

Fast forward to April 2023, and that remains Ewen’s goal: Simply throw an inch farther than her best.

In the spring of 2012, Maggie was a junior at St. Francis High School who was in the midst of breaking and re-breaking state records in her two events – shot put and discus -- and winning seven state titles. She graduated from high school in 2013 and now, a decade later, her state records remain standing.

“There are so many great memories,” she said last week during the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, where she competed along with many of the best professional track and field athletes from the U.S. and around the world.

After high school Ewen was a standout at Arizona State. She set school and national collegiate records in the shot put and hammer throw, winning NCAA championships in those events and the discus.

Becoming a professional thrower after college, she ranks among the leaders in the U.S. as well as on the world stage. She placed fourth in the shot put behind athletes from China, Jamaica and Germany at the 2019 World Outdoor Championships in Doha, Qatar. In 2020 she finished fourth at the U.S. Olympic trials in the shot put; the top three qualified for the Olympics and Maggie came an inch and a half short of third place in that competition.

She said the possibility of being a professional athlete was not on her radar in high school.

“Track was always something for me that was just a lot of fun. I enjoy doing this,” she said. “And then as I progressed through high school, college, and then I got to the end of college, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, can I just continue to do this?’ So it was a slow realization, but it's been awesome.”

In the shot put, Ewen set the high school state record of 54 feet, 8.5 inches at the 2013 state meet. No. 2 on the all-time list is a distance of 52-4.75 by Liz Podominick of Lakeville 2003. The best mark since Ewen graduated 10 years ago is 47-9 by Alexandrea Hurst of Robbinsdale Armstrong in 2016

Ewen’s state record in the discus is 175-9, also set in 2013 at a True Team section meet. Next on the all-time list are 167-6 by Natalie Manders of Eastview in 2015 and 166-10 by Amanda Anderson of Saint Francis in 2017.

Andy Forbort, who was the head track coach at St. Francis for 10 years through 2015, said Anderson was Ewen’s protégé. “I called her ‘mini Mags’ because was a sponge following Maggie around.”

Maggie first broke the discus record when she was a sophomore in 2011. That throw, during a four-team meet in St. Francis, was 165 feet, 9 inches, breaking the previous state record of 162-4 by Jessica Cagle of Grand Rapids in 2008. Before her high school career ended, Ewen had won four state championships in the discus and three in the shot.

Her early success was framed by training with her dad, Bruce, who was a collegiate thrower at Illinois State and came within a quarter inch of making the 1988 U.S. Olympic team in the hammer throw. Maggie’s mom, Kristi, played volleyball at Columbia Heights and Ohio State.

With throwing circles on their rural property, the Ewens could work out at any time.

“I have fond memories of all the time I was able to spend with my dad with the events, because he was my primary coach,” Maggie said. “There was a lot of Saturday morning throwing and it was just all that great time we spent together. It's just really special.”

Bruce and Maggie were in Des Moines to watch their daughter compete in three events last week. On Wednesday evening Maggie was one of four female and four male shot putters to compete in a unique coed indoor event, with teams of one female and one male using combined distances to determine the finish. Maggie and Tripp Piperi finished first, ahead of two-time Olympic champion Ryan Crouser and Jessica Woodard.

On Thursday she was second in the hammer throw behind Brooke Anderson, an Olympian in that event, and on Saturday Ewen finished second to 2022 world champion Chase Ealey in the traditional outdoor women’s shot put.

Ewen lives in Vermillion, South Dakota, where her personal coach, Kyle Long, is an assistant coach at the University of South Dakota. He is a former throws coach at Arizona State, where he worked with Ewen. Maggie works as a volunteer assistant coach with the Coyotes.

Maggie is sponsored by Nike, but much of her income is largely dependent on how well she does in competitions. When she and Piperi won the coed shot put at Drake, they split $3,500.

“Don't get me wrong, but having a performance-based salary can get stressful,” she said. “But if that's my biggest worry, it's not that bad.”

Her schedule follows a pattern every year.

“About seven months out of the year, you're really just hunkered down training, training, training,” she said. “And then for about five months out of the year it’s nonstop traveling and competing. That's really the only way to describe it as you go from hibernating to everything all the time. But it's so much fun. It's opened so many doors. I've got to see so many cool places I never imagined and I’ve seen so many cool things. It's been great.

“I think what's been the most fun is all the people you meet along the way. People from different countries, people with different backgrounds. The men, the women, the different events. I just get to meet so many great people and have so many cool relationships. A lot of us know each other from the circuit, from making teams together, from our college days. Me and Chase (Ealey), we were on the same juniors team, so we all just go back in our own ways. And we're all friends.”

Forbort, now an assistant principal at Grand Rapids High School, said he stays in contact with Maggie, mainly via texts.

“I’ll see meets on TV when she’s competing and shoot her a message,” he said.

Forbort said Ewen is a rare mixture of natural ability, hard work and complete class.

“Obviously she had the genes from her parents, the athletics, the background, but that will only take you so far,” he said. “It was her commitment and attention to detail, and she was humble. She was never arrogant, never cocky, she cheered people on, she wanted everybody else to succeed. And her sportsmanship, the way she carried herself, that was really something for a talent of that level.”

Ewen’s impact on Minnesota track and field is almost unparalleled, and that extends way past how far she throws things.

There is a 9-year-old girl in Grand Rapids who has a special name. Maggie’s full name is Magdalyn Mae Ewen, and Forbort’s daughter is named Madelyn Mae.

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at [email protected] 

Next Article

2023 Robotics: Greenbush-Middle River, Becker and Edina return to defend 2022 titles