Former Oxford standout Shelby McEwen inks with Alabama track

Published 7:14 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

Shelby McEwen was once a major factor for the Oxford High track & field team. He was also a standout player on the basketball court and spent the past two years in Senatobia and playing for the Northwest Mississippi Community College basketball team.

He is now hanging up the basketball shoes and dusting off his old track shoes as the former Charger will be joining the ranks of the Southeastern Conference, signing with Alabama on Thursday morning. McEwen made the announcement, picking Alabama over Auburn and Mississippi State, in the OHS library. He will focus on being the Crimson Tide’s high jumper.

Track was never out of McEwen’s mind as he would compete in what are called unattached meets, where an athlete can go to the track meets and compete without being affiliated with a college team. He started competing in meets at Southern Mississippi, Auburn and Mississippi State after his freshman season at NWCC.

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“I started jumping unattached, and I just started carrying my recruiting process from there,” McEwen said. “I just went from there, practicing on my own except for my mom. She was there the whole way.”

Auburn got on McEwen’s radar after he competed at the Tigers’ meet last year, and they made him an offer. When he went for a visit, he felt really good about sticking with Auburn until last week when he went to Tuscaloosa to compete in the Crimson Tide Invitational and broke the meet record with his new personal record of 7 feet, 3 inches. The rest was history.

“I took it from there and reopened my decision and decided to go (to Alabama),” McEwen said.

While at Oxford, McEwen’s personal best jump was 7-feet even. Three inches may not seem like much, but in the track world, those inches feel like miles. The training on his own the past two years paid off in length and a chance to shine at one of the SEC’s premier track programs.

“It’s all a mental thing when it comes to high jump,” McEwen said of adding the extra distance. “You’re just on your own, and I just put it in my head that I would get higher.”

Alabama was not the end game for McEwen, who has his sights on joining Team USA in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.