Katelyn Tuohy: The Greatest High School Runner of All Time

Katelyn Tuohy, a high school senior, has won four Gatorade Player of the Year titles for cross country (XC) and track, making her one of the greatest to ever do it.

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Nike’s annual Nike Cross Nationals (NXN) is the most prestigious meet in high school cross country (XC). Elite high school runners race against each other after qualifying through regional meets. In recent years, the boys' race has been unpredictable because there is no single male runner that has consistently dominated the high school running world. However, the girls' race has recently exhibited a completely different trend, in which one female runner has dominated the standings so consistently that many consider the NXN to be a race for second place.

On the chill morning of December 5, 2019, all eyes were on North Rockland senior Katelyn Tuohy. Given Tuohy’s wins the previous two years and her dominant XC season, she was the clear favorite to win the race. After taking up cross country during her sophomore year, Tuohy has consistently been the top-ranked high school long-distance runner for the past three years.

However, this was not the case for this year’s NXN. The conditions of the race-course were some of the worst that they have been in years. The muddy ground and rainy weather made it hard for the runners to grip onto the dirt. The air was frigid and sharp.

In the past two years, Tuohy has won with a staggering lead; this year was different. Two other runners, Taylor Ewert and Sydney Thorvaldson, were right on her heels coming down the home stretch, nearly matching her stride for stride. Dashing as fast as she could, she seemed to be in immense pain and repeatedly glanced behind her shoulder, something that she almost never does when racing. It was a fight to the very last second, but Tuohy showed why she was, is, and will likely continue to be the best high school runner in the nation. Despite the grimace on her face, she executed her plan to finish the race strong.

Every year, Gatorade presents the Player of the Year award to distinguished high school athletes in a variety of sports. Athletes that have previously received this award include LeBron James, Peyton Manning, and Kobe Bryant. This year’s Gatorade Player of the Year honor was awarded to Katelyn Tuohy. She has been named the Gatorade Player of the year twice already— once as a sophomore and again as a junior.

In addition, she has set numerous cross country and track records, making her a true force to be reckoned with. Her personal records (PR) in the mile and two-mile are 4:33 and 9:51, respectively. These records are especially impressive as most high school girls can’t even run a mile under five minutes, let alone maintain this pace for two miles. Her XC personal record in the 5000-meter race is 16:06, a time that clearly separates her from the rest of the field.

Having racked up almost 90,000 followers on Instagram, Tuohy has certainly become a celebrity within the running world. But behind the glory and plethora of awards lies an incredible work ethic and mindset. She practices every day and takes her training very seriously, usually running longer and harder than the workout calls for. In addition to her spectacular resume in running, she is a straight-A student and is likely to be the valedictorian of her high school.

In an interview with runner and YouTuber Billy Cvecko, better known as “the Toad,” Katelyn describes her daily life as a student-athlete: “I get up on a school day at 4:30 a.m., and I go to the gym. And then I shower up, go to school, go to practice, do all of my homework, maybe go try to get another workout in. I like training a lot…and I go to bed at 8:30 p.m.” It is clear that Tuohy has disciplined herself to meet the needs of her demanding schedule, from waking up at the crack of dawn to sleeping at a very early time.

Her coach, Brian Diglio, praised her work ethic. “I always tell [people] that my favorite part is always the workouts. Because getting…to see her do it day in and day out [and to see] what she’s able to do is a lot of fun for me as a coach,” Diglio said. “You write up workouts with a specific goal and you hope the girls can kind of hit them. With [Katelyn], she’s kind of like a metronome. When you write it up, she’s going to run it the way that you want or faster. I’ve been coaching for a long time and it’s a special thing to see.”

Given her amazing work ethic and undeniable talent, Tuohy will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest American high school athletes in history. She has constantly pushed the limits of running and will continue to be a powerful force at North Carolina State University, and eventually at the professional level. Her goal is to make the 2024 Paris Olympic team, which will be no problem for her at this rate.