Promising Cross Country Recruits in the Face of Uncertainty

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Throughout the year, coaches from many universities have been recruiting runners who have displayed the potential to strengthen their respective teams. With their high school careers cut short, many top high school runners are looking forward to kicking off their collegiate careers with a strong start this fall.

Here are a few promising athletes who have been recruited by collegiate running programs:

Athlete: Katelyn Tuohy

High School: North Rockland High School

Hometown: Stony Point, NY

College: North Carolina State University

Personal Bests: Mile: 4:33.87 (High School Record), 3000-meter: 9:01.81 (High School Record), 3200-meter: 9:47.88 (High School Record), 5000-meter: 15:37.12 (High School Record)

Achievement(s): Five-time Gatorade Player of the Year (2018 and 2019 Cross Country Athlete of the Year, 2018 Track Athlete of the Year, and 2018 and 2019 Female Athlete of the Year); Three-time Nike Cross Nationals Champion

Tuohy is arguably the best female high school distance runner in history, as reaffirmed by Bronxville High School Coach Jim Mitchell, who remarked, “[Tuohy] might be the best high school runner ever.”

Athlete: Marlee Starliper

High School: Northern York High School

Hometown: Dillsburg, PA

College: North Carolina State University

Personal Bests: 800-meter: 2:09.44, Mile: 4:37.45, 3000-meter: 9:07.14, 5000-meter: 16:46.80 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): Millrose Games New Balance Mile Champion (4:37.76)

Athlete: Claire Walters

High School: Fayetteville-Manlius High School

Hometown: Manlius, NY

College: North Carolina State University

Personal Bests: Mile: 4:53.63, 2000-meter Steeplechase: 6:57.03, 4000-meter: 13:45.90 (Cross Country), 5000-meter: 17:13.30 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): Three-time Nike Cross Nationals Team Champion

Athlete: Taylor Ewert

High School: Beavercreek High School

Hometown: Beavercreek, Ohio

College: University of Arkansas

Personal Bests: 1500-meter: 4:30.98, Mile Racewalk: 6:28.21, 2000-meter Steeplechase: 6:33.61, 5000-meter: 16:57.90 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): American junior record-holder in the 3000-meter racewalk, 5000-meter race walk, 1500-meter (indoor), mile (indoor), and 3000-meter racewalk (indoor); qualified for the 2020 Olympic trials in racewalking

*Ewert is an incredibly versatile athlete who excels in many different events. She competes in cross country and indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, specializing in the steeplechase, racewalking, and running events.

Athlete: London Culbreath

High School: McKinney North High School

Hometown: McKinney, Texas

College: University of Arkansas

Personal Bests: 3000-meter: 9:36.77, mile: 4:43.41, 5000-meter: 16:36.86 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): 2017-2018 Texas Girls Cross Country Gatorade Player of the Year

Athlete: Victoria (Tori) Starcher

High School: Ripley High School

Hometown: Ripley, West Virginia

College: Stanford University

Personal Bests: 800-meter: 2:07.42, 1500-meter: 4:20.17, 3200-meter: 10:20.54, 5000-meter: 17:22.40 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): Penn Relays mile record-holder

Athlete: Zofia Dudek

High School: Pioneer High School

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

College: Stanford University

Personal Bests: 800-meter: 2:08.34, 1600-meter: 4:41.85, 3200-meter: 9:56.72, 5000-meter: 16:45.00 (Cross Country)

Achievement(s): 2019 Foot Locker Cross Country National Champion (16:45.00)

These seven girls have long been regarded as among the best of the high school running community. Despite not being able to end off their illustrious high school running careers on their own terms, these runners will have the chance to compete against each other at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships, set to take place on November 21, 2020 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Though it is extremely difficult to accurately tell what the scores will look like this year, here are my predictions for the top three teams at the 2020 championships:

1. University of Arkansas Big Reds/Fighting Razorbacks

The Razorbacks won the NCAA Cross Country title in 2019 for the first time in the program’s history with just 96 points, which will definitely boost the team’s confidence as the runners aim to defend their title. With new recruits, specifically Ewert and Culbreath, they have a great chance of winning yet again.

2. Stanford University Cardinals

The Cardinals have long been one of the nation’s strongest cross country teams, as proven by their third place finish at the 2019 NCAA Championship. They have many experienced runners, and the newly-recruited athletes will not disappoint. The Cardinals are likely to place in the top three for a consecutive year.

3. North Carolina (NC) State University Wolfpack

After finishing in fifth place at the 2019 NCAA Championships, NC State is definitely looking to improve. In addition to Tuohy, Starliper, and Walters, the Wolfpack has recruited a few other exceptional athletes, including Jenna Schultz from Liverpool High School. Tuohy will surely elevate the team’s standing and has a great chance at scoring extremely well individually.

These runners have proven that they are ready to handle both the academic rigor of college as well as the demands that come with competing for three of the top programs in the nation. Despite the competitive nature of the sport, regardless of which team wins the most meets, earns the NCAA title, or sends the most athletes to the Olympics, all programs simply aim to train their athletes to do what they love: run.