On any weekday morning during the spring track season, Weber State University alumnus and Olympic hopeful Tawnie Moore is on the Fremont High School track, coaching local athletes and chasing her own dream of running in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, France.
Moore spent most of her high school career on that track, training and breaking records. In 2012 she set the fastest time for high school girls in the state for the 100 meter hurdles, running the event in 14.73 seconds.
Moore likes to take on new challenges, and not qualifying to compete in the Olympics in Japan didn’t end the chase. Moore hasn’t stopped running since she took off in seventh grade on the grassy field behind Wahlquist Junior High. She started by running the half mile and the mile but learned that she did better with shorter and faster races like the 400-meter dash. At the suggestion of junior high coach Ann Tippets, she attempted the hurdles. She fell on her first jump, but tried again and loved it.
Moore lettered for three years in track and field at Fremont, ending as the state champion her senior year. After all her successes, Moore had plenty of college recruiters calling, but she knew she didn’t have to go far to get everything she wanted.
“I was looking at different colleges and none of them stood out to me more so than Weber State.” Moore said. “I just felt like that is where I belonged. That is where I needed to be. Something that I've always strived to do with my life is help give back to the community and help other people. I thought, what better way to stay within my community and bring more light to track and field than to stay here and go to Weber State?”
As a student-athlete, she majored in organizational communication in the Lindquist College of Arts & Humanities, while spending many hours on the track. Her determination and talent combined for some great success, including competing in the Big Sky Championship both her freshman and sophomore years. In her junior year, in 2016, she won the Big Sky title in the 60-meter hurdles and set a new school record in the event with a time of 8.45.
In 2017, in what should have been a culminating senior year, Moore experienced an unexpected setback. While testing new sprint spikes, she broke her heel bone. For six months she was unable to bear weight on her left foot.
“I was on track to graduate and to walk into the next steps in my life,” Moore said. “All that changed. I had a little hairline fracture, but I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t put any weight on it. It was shooting pain all the way up my leg. It was tough.”
While completing extensive physical therapy, she decided she wasn’t done running. She extended her eligibility for one official season and enrolled in Weber State’s Master of Professional Communication (MPC) program.
“Life’s going to throw you curveballs all the time,” Moore said. “So it’s better to be open minded about things as they come and don’t be so set in your ways that everything implodes when it doesn’t go your way.”
Fellow students in the MPC program were motivated by Moore’s flexibility and tenacity to continue her education as she recovered and trained.
“Tawnie's determination shines in and out of the classroom as she works hard to achieve her academic and athletic goals,” said Sarah Steimel, MPC advisor. “Tawnie is brave enough to pursue big dreams, and her classmates respected her overall as a caring, creative and courageous person.”
In 2019, as she completed her master’s, she also completed what she started on the track. At the Big Sky championships in Missoula, Montana, Moore won her second title in the 100-meter hurdles with a conference record time of 13.11. She qualified for the NCAA Championships where she earned All-American honors. She is the only Weber State athlete, male or female, to be recognized as All-American in the hurdles.
“Tawnie is intensely passionate about becoming the best possible hurdler she can be,” said coach Corbin Talley. “I’ve been so impressed with all she has overcome to accomplish her goals. She is a fierce competitor and an incredible teammate. Tawnie puts her heart and soul into everything she does.”
On June 20, 2021, Moore ranked 30th at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, with a time of 13.03, just .19 seconds off the qualifying time. She decided to extend her professional career and set her sights on Paris in 2024.
“I’m planning on training for the next three years for the next trials in 2024, as a professional athlete,” said Moore. “I’m so excited for the journey and looking forward to getting even better.”
During the summer, Moore is maintaining her fitness and making necessary changes to the hurdles. She lifts weights and works on hurdling techniques three times a week with conditioning two times a week. When fall comes, she will train to increase strength, speed and power.
“There’s never been a moment in my life where I’m like, ‘No way, you can’t do this,’” Moore said. “There’s just something that has always been an internal desire for me to push forward. So anything I can do to make that happen, I’ll do my best.”