Tylee Newman-Skinner is well aware of the fact that her track and field career at Utah State is on its final lap.
“It is now to the point where any race I run could be my last, so I want to make sure I leave everything on the track,” said the senior distance runner.
Which is exactly what she has been doing every time she steps on the track during the outdoor season. Newman-Skinner has finished in the top four in six of the nine races she has competed in, including placing first on three separate occasions.
Newman-Skinner is one of a school-record 22 student-athletes that will compete in 25 events at the NCAA West Preliminary Championships, which will be held May 24-26, at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California. Newman-Skinner earned a spot in the 1,500-meter run, where she is seeded 33rd with a school-record time of 4:23.99 set at the Mountain West Outdoor Championships on May 12, in Clovis, California.
“I have nothing to lose going into the West Prelims,” Newman-Skinner said. “I know that I can compete well and that I can be just as competitive as anyone else I'll be competing against.”
According to Utah State head cross-country coach Artie Gulden, who is in charge of the distance runners during the indoor and outdoor track seasons, Newman-Skinner is as competitive as they come.
“Tylee is fiercely competitive,” Gulden said. “A great illustration of this was at the outdoor conference meet. She was seeded eighth or ninth going in with some girls six or seven seconds faster than her. But, she competed like crazy and beat most of the girls seeded ahead of her by a large margin. She really just sticks her nose in any situation believing she can succeed and shows that by beating people who are better than her on paper.”
With her record-setting time of 4:23.99 in the 1,500 meters, Newman-Skinner earned first-team all-Mountain West honors by placing third in the event. The previous school record of 4:24.08 was set by Jennifer Twitchell in 2006.
“Getting the school record was a big goal of mine going into my senior year,” Newman-Skinner said. “I had been frustrated that I hadn’t (run) as fast as I wanted to yet and decided that the goal for conference was just to compete. When I realized I had beat the record it was the cherry on top of getting third at conference.”
That was the second school record Newman-Skinner broke during the outdoor season. The native of Monteview, Idaho, took over the top spot in the 3,000-meter run as well after running it in 9:33.02 at the UC Irvine-hosted Spring Collegiate Classic on March 17. The old mark of 9:40.52 was set by current teammate Kashley Carter in 2016. In fact, Newman-Skinner was not even ranked in the top 10 entering the outdoor season.
Newman-Skinner’s name is scattered all over the indoor record book, too. After all, she ranks third all-time in the mile run (4:47.97), sixth in the 3,000 meters (9:44.61), seventh in the distance medley relay (11:57.22) and 10th in the 800 meters (2:13.34).
Last fall, she was a big reason why Utah State qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships for the first time in school history.
“Being part of the first cross-country team to compete at nationals will be one of the greatest highlights of my college career,” Newman-Skinner said. “This cross-country season I truly learned what it means to work as a team and to commit to a goal and accomplish it. When I first returned from my (LDS Church) mission a teammate had told me that the coaches thought we would be able to compete at nationals in the next few years. I thought she was crazy because I remember as a freshman being told that nationals was only for those really good teams and that the regional meet was just ‘another race.’ But then, we did it. We became one of the best teams in the nation.”
The Aggies were ranked 19th in the nation heading into the championships, but they finished 14th with 395 points in the 6-kilometer race. Newman-Skinner completed the race in a time of 21:44.88.
“Tylee has been a captain the past two years and has been an integral part of the rise of our program,” Gulden said. “Her freshman year, their team really had no shot or even a thought of going to nationals. But, she has helped lead the way in transforming the culture. She has had a ton of success — holding two school records, being all-conference a number of times and all-region in cross-country — but I believe her biggest contribution is leading the charge to create a culture of excellence.”
Newman-Skinner has accumulated a long list of accolades during her time at Utah State. She earned all-region cross-country honors by placing 19th with a time of 20:39.0 at the 2017 NCAA Mountain Regional Championships, and she has picked up a pair of first-team all-Mountain West honors in the 1,500 meters. On top of that, Newman-Skinner has garnered MW Scholar-Athlete accolades four times and academic all-league honors three times.
The eight-time letterwinner in cross-country and track and field at West Jefferson High School in Terreton, Idaho, joined the Aggies in 2012-13, where she earned a trio of first-team all-Western Athletic Conference honors.
Newman-Skinner then put her athletic and school career on hold as she served an LDS Church mission in Jackson, Mississippi, from 2013-14.
“It really wasn’t too difficult of a decision to go on a mission, but it was difficult to get back into running when I got home,” Newman-Skinner said. “I got injured pretty quickly when I got home and that made it hard to stay motivated and still believe I could run the times I had run my freshman year. But, I kept at it and now looking back, I am so grateful I went on a mission and came home when I did. I got to be a part of one of the greatest teams Utah State has ever had.”
Newman-Skinner graduated earlier this month with a degree in special education, but with one more year of eligibility left in cross-country, she will begin working on a new major, pre-physical therapy. Her future plans, though, include earning a master’s degree in occupational therapy and becoming an occupational therapist.
“One day I want to own a business with my husband (Tyrel Skinner) where we use horses as therapy tools to help children and adults with disabilities,” Newman-Skinner said.
What will Gulden miss most when Newman-Skinner is no longer competing for the Aggies?
“Fortunately for us, she still has another cross-country season, but when it’s all said and done, I will miss her competitiveness and example,” Gulden said. “She’s a great example to those around her. She goes about her business working hard. She also wears a lot of hats and excels in all of them. Not only is she a great athlete, but she’s an even better student holding a cumulative 3.98 GPA. She also is married to a fantastic person, Tyrel Skinner, and is able to balance all her roles really well, which inspires me and sets a great example for all those associated with her.”