Track Recruiting

Why To Consider a Distance-Oriented Track Program



It requires only a brief glance at the NCAA results to realize that many of the nation’s top cross country teams are programs that have made a deliberate decision to focus their resources on distance running. At the Women’s NCAA I Cross Country Championships last weekend, Colorado and New Mexico finished 1st and 2nd  - both team are distance-oriented programs. On the men’s side, Northern Arizona University, Portland and Colorado finished 1st, 3rd and 4th respectively further confirming this trend. Look no further than upstarts Furman University and Bradley University as impactful programs on the national level.

To learn more about the advantages of running for such a program I spoke with current Boston Athletic Association (BAA) High Performance Coach Ricardo Santos.

Track Recruiting

An athlete at Iona College, Santos was an NCAA All-American. As a coach, his athletes accrued a long list of accomplishments, including NCAA Cross Country, Indoor, and Outdoor Track Championships, All-American honors, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships, and eight top-10 NCAA team finishes in cross-country.

Santos stated, “Throughout the college recruiting process, numerous high-level distance runners are faced with the decision between looking at schools with complete track and field programs versus those that focus on cross country and distance events on the track.  Having been at a distance-only school as a student-athlete and coach, I may be a little biased, but there are many advantages to competing for a distance-oriented program. 

I asked Coach Santos what factor he considered to be the most positively impactful. In his opinion, he thought that “The most important factor is individualism. Coaches are able to focus more on individuals as the number of overall athletes on the team tends to be smaller than those of a full program.  He further stated that “This can allow for a more natural progression in an athlete’s career and not rush them into higher mileage or inappropriate intensity level of training before the athlete is ready, thus, reducing the risk of injury or burn- out.

Coach Santos went on to say, “Another key factor is not over racing.  Many of the full programs during the track seasons are looking to win meets - this may mean that an athlete will have to compete in multiple races to score points for the team.  Potentially, this can lead to over racing.  With distance only programs there is a less chance of over racing as most meets will focus on individual performance as opposed to team finish. The primary focus is on the post-season and individual achievement on the track.

Santos concluded, “In the end, it really depends on what the prospective student-athlete is looking for.  There are many factors to consider when deciding between a distance only program and a more tradition full track and field program.  However, in my opinion, the distance only program serves as a great benefit for someone looking to develop at a more natural progression.

Iona College Women’s XC

Iona College Women’s XC


College Track and Field Recruiting Tips - Do Not Sell Yourself Short But Be Realistic

College Track and Field

Do Not Sell Yourself Short But Be Realistic

Obviously, everyone wants to run Cross Country for Stanford or line up in the 4 x 100m for LSU but if you haven’t heard from their coaching staff yet, then they are probably not interested. At this point, you need to be realistic.

Regardless of your ability level, if you have been reaching out to college coaches and they are not responding, take the hint and move on. You might need to reassess the type of schools and programs on your list. Research the team’s current performance level (see TFRRS for team rankings and performances) and learn more about the academic profile of the school’s incoming freshmen class.

If you haven’t been contacting colleges yet, get started today. Be sure to pursue colleges where you have a legitimate shot at making their team or being admitted to their university. Additionally, pursue schools that a safe options. Spend the majority of your time committed to focusing on the colleges that are just as interested in you as you are in them.

Track and Field Recruiting: Three Things To Consider When E-Mailing A College Coach

Fast Track Recruiting

Over the span of my thirty-year coaching career, I learned that communication is the most important element to reaching your goals. It is imperative that you learn to communicate openly and effectively with your parents, high school coach, and college coaches.

More specifically, when sending an initial email to a college coach expressing your interest clearly articulate yourself. Here are three suggestions to consider when emailing college coaches.



Be brief. Clearly and concisely articulate who you are. There is no need to list what place you finished at your conference meet or how competitive your high school is academically. Express your interest in their specific school and program, list your PR’s and provide your essential academic information – GPA and test scores.  Avoid phrases such as “I am confident that I can contribute greatly to your program” if you are not yet performing at a level close to the team’s current athletes.



In most cases, your initial e-mail to a college coach will be your first impression. Make it impactful. Avoid slang terms, misspellings and formatting mistakes. Carefully proofread every email before hitting send. Be sure if you cut and paste that the formatting is not changed clearly exposing such. Finally, be sure that the coach’s name and school are correct. On several occasions while I was coaching at Columbia I would receive emails addressed to other coaches and/or colleges expressing interest on one of our rival schools. Send a couple of test emails to your self first to ensure there are not weird font or text size changes where you have cut and pasted new names.



Prior to sending your email complete the school’s online recruiting questionnaire. Your e-mails should be extremely easy to read. Avoid sending attachments – there is no reason to include them on your initial email and they will most likely not be opened. Provide clear and easily seen contact information.

The recruiting process can be daunting. There are so many unknowns throughout the entire process. However, if you get started early, put in the work and take an active role you will find the right fit.

College Track and Field Recruiting - What Should I Be Doing In My Sophomore Year In High School?

College Track and Field Recruiting

In less than a year, college coaches will be allowed to start contacting you. On September 01 of your Junior year, your recruiting process will begin. As a result, it is imperative that you devise a plan of action now.

Below are three suggestions for you to consider during your sophomore year of high school to optimize your college recruitment experience:


Create an expansive list of schools/programs that meet your specific needs and desires.  Among factors to consider are affiliation level (NCAA I, II, III, NAIA, and JUCO), competitiveness of the program, cost of attendance, quality of education, geographical location, intended academic major, enrollment size, public vs private, and other factors that matter to YOU.

Do not be mesmerized by the name of a school. See beyond the prowess of their football and basketball programs or their academic reputation. Make sure the schools you choose meets your needs for reasons beyond it simply being cool to tell the world you will be running or studying at a particular school. There is much more to college track and field than simply Division I.

Create a list of schools that you would be happy at without track and field - just in case your athletic career does not go as planned.


Do not be passive. Start reaching out to college coaches now from the schools on your list. In my personal dealings with high school student-athletes, I often heard prospects state that the schools on their list were comprised solely of programs that contacted them. If a program you’re interested in does not reach out to you, reach out to them! You will be surprised at how effective personally reaching out will enhance your recruiting experience.

Start to visit colleges during your sophomore year. Take a campus tour, check out the athletic facilities and eat lunch at a local restaurant. Start to get an idea of what it is you want in a college. You can’t sit down and speak with the coach until your Junior year, but you if you happen to bump into them you can say, hi.


Over the span of my thirty-year coaching career, I learned that communication is the most important element to reaching your goals. It is imperative that you learn to communicate openly and effectively with your parents, high school coach, and college coaches.

Because it is only your sophomore year college coaches are not allowed to respond to your emails and other forms of communication, but now is still a good time to start reaching out. Fill out their online questionnaire. Send an email expressing your interest in their program and give them a brief overview of who you are as an athlete and student.

Your sophomore year is a great time to begin readying yourself for the process that is about to begin. You should view this time as your pre-season training. Although there will be no meets during this time the work and preparation that you do now will be critical to future success.

For more recruiting information click below:

What Should I Be Doing in My Senior Year 

What Should I Be Doing in My Junior Year 


College Track and Field Recruiting: What Should I Be Doing In My Junior Year In High School?

Track Recruiting


Your Junior year of high school has arrived. With the new NCAA recruiting rules in place, coaches were allowed to start contacting you on September 1st. Many programs are in the midst of finalizing their recruiting classes for this year and will begin focusing their efforts on next year’s class – this year’s juniors.

To ensure that you take full advantage of this process, here are a few suggestions to help you find the right fit for you.

1. Cast A Wide Net

Your junior year is about seeing what’s out there and what kind of school might be a good fit for you. If you have not yet done so create an expansive list of schools/programs that meet your specific needs and desires. Among factors to consider are affiliation (NCAA I, II, III, NAIA and JUCO), competitiveness of the program, cost of attendance, quality of education, geographical location, intended academic major, enrollment size, public vs private, and other factors that matter to you.

Think about what may impact your athletic experience the most like coaching style, athlete retention, and success of the program. Determine if you are a good fit athletically – many schools post their recruiting standards online.

Know what the academic requirements are for the schools you are considering to determine if you are potentially admissible.

Continually revise your list. During my coaching career, I often saw recruits close doors too early. They would rule out programs in their junior year of high school based on a variety of factors and then end up scrambling in the end when Plan A did not work out. Make sure to keep Plan B in play as to not have to settle for Plan C at the last minute.

2. Fill Out Online Recruiting Questionnaires

The online recruiting questionnaire is a good first and simple means to initiate communication with a program. It allows the coach to assess if you are a good fit for their program. In a recent interview with the Recruiting Code, Duke University Head Women’s Cross Country Coach, Rhonda Riley was asked, “What are the important steps for an athlete to get noticed by you?” She responded, “The two ways to get on my radar are to fill out our online questionnaire and to follow up with an email. When a high school athlete takes the time to send an email with their contact information, personal best marks, academic information etc. it means they are serious about considering Duke as a potential university.” Online recruiting questionnaires are typically very easy to find on individual schools’ track and field websites.

3. Contact College Coaches

Over the span of my 30-year coaching career, I learned that communication is the most important element to reaching your goals. If you have not yet started - start reaching out to college coaches from the schools on your list. You will be surprised at how effective personally reaching out to coaches will enhance your recruiting experience.

Proofread every email before hitting send. A great deal of communication in the early phases of the recruiting process is going to be cut and paste on both sides, however, making a simple mistake can dehumanize the process and render the remainder of your communication less credible. Make sure you are addressing the proper institution and coach. I cannot tell you how many emails I received from recruits specifically addressed to a rival coach expressing their interest in a rival school.

Send updates on a regular basis. Most coaches receive dozens of emails from recruits each day so it’s important that you keep yourself on their radar.

4. Take The ACT / SAT

Register and take the SAT/ACT during your junior year. If you feel adequately prepared, I would suggest taking the test in the fall of your junior year. This will allow you plenty of time to take it for the second time in the spring. Everyone's test prep is going to vary based on their own strengths, weaknesses, schedule, and goals. At the very minimum, though, all students should try to put in 10 hours of focused test prep, at least to get familiar with the format and timing of the test. Realistically, you would need to put in much more time over a sustained period to do well.

However, if you are not ready to take the test do not view it as a test-run. Do not take the test until you have prepared to do so at a level that is reflective of your academic potential.

If you are considering attending a highly selective academic institution taking the test earlier will significantly enhance your recruitment. Most selective schools will not vigorously pursue a potential-student athlete without test scores to determine admissibility.

5. Utilize Unofficial Visits

Unofficial visits can help you gather significant information about individual programs and schools. This time will allow you an opportunity to meet the coach in person, tour the college, check out the athletic facilities, and possibly meet current team members.

Do your homework - know who and where you are visiting. Have a keen understanding of the unique strengths of each school and team, as it will show the respective coaching staff how serious you are about their program.

Use this time to learn as much as you can about the program and coaching staff. Identify the factors that will be most important to you in determining if you will return for an official visit. Have a short list of specific questions ready that address the most critical factors in your college decision.

There is no imposed limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take, so take as many as possible. There is no better tool to help you hone in on the best school/program for you.

In summary:

Do not be passive – start reaching out to college coaches now. Be aggressive in your outreach and email every program that you are interested in, regardless of the perceived reach. Be your own greatest advocate and take charge of your future.

SENIORS - What should you be doing? CLICK HERE

What Should I Be Doing Now That I Am A Senior? College Track and Field Recruiting

College Track and Field Recruiting

This is your senior this year and if you want to compete in college but are not being recruited, you need to change your approach. You either need to start a more vigorous outreach campaign or redirect your focus to generate more interest in you as a recruit. Take advantage of the next few months to get noticed, recruited and to find the best fit for you.

Your first step should be identify the why’s behind your current non-recruitment status. If coaches from the schools on your list are not responding to your communications, they are most likely not interested. If you have yet to hear from programs not on your list, they either do not know about you or they are not interested. Do not be passive – find out which it is and try to rectify the situation.

Unfortunately, if they are not interested in you as a recruit there is very little that you can do other than improving upon your current marks during the indoor or early outdoor season. . However, if it is because they don’t know about you – there is a lot you can do.

If you want to compete in college here are six things you should be doing now that your Senior year has arrived!

1.        Try, try again – and, then move on.

Send another e-mail or make one more phone call to the programs you have an interest in who have not yet contacted you or responded back to your previous communications. I would suggest an email expressing your sincere desire to attend their school and compete for them directed to both the Head Coach and the event coach who would be coaching you. If you still don’t hear back from them it is probably time to cross them off of your list.

2.        Reach out to schools that have reached out to you.

Go through your old e-mails, letters of inquiry, questionnaires, generic correspondences and create a list of every school that has contacted you.  Reach out to these programs and start a dialogue if you haven’t yet. You may be pleasantly surprised and find a good fit for you at a place you are not currently considering. At this point in time, you are trying to create a list of options – you can always say no at a later date. Ideally, it would be nice to have choices and to be in a position to say no to a few schools. Concentrate your efforts on programs that have shown an interest in you.


3. Expand your search

If you are not being recruited, you have three primary options. The first would be to have a great senior year and wait it out. However, this could prove extremely stressful and place a lot of pressure on you. The second option would be to contemplate not competing in college. In my opinion, this is a terrible choice if you enjoy competing! Thirdly, you can expand your search and find a school where you can compete. Reevaluate your goals and desires and be realistic. Identify different types of schools and different levels of programs than you have previously been considering. Because you are a senior, you should do this immediately. Identify numerous new schools that match your current athletic and academic levels of achievement.

4.        Create a different means of outreach

If e-mails are not working, try Twitter, give them a call, send a letter or visit the campus and stop by their office to introduce yourself. Do what you have to do to get noticed. The goal is to start a conversation.

5.        Enlist the Help of your High School Coach

If you are not making progress on your own enlist the help of your high school coach.  Ask your current coach to review your list of schools and to offer truthful and critical feedback on what programs/schools are viable options for you. Also, ask them for suggestions to expand your list. After you reach out to these programs ask your coach to send a follow-up email on your behalf identifying your personal strengths and potential as a runner. Be sure to make it easy for your high school coach to do this for you. Provide them with the contact information of the college coaches and all of the pertinent information they will need speak on positively your behalf.


6.        Enlist the help of a third-party

If you are still not generating the type of response you are looking for try to find an additional source of help. Contact current college runners you know at schools you have an interest in, alums who ran in college with a keen understanding of current recruiting trends, family friends with direct contacts to coaching staffs and recruiting services with real connections and access to the inside. Enlist all of the help you can get – you are competing for your future.

What Questions Should I Ask On My Official Visit?


Plain and simple, your official visits will determine where you attend school and which team you compete for. I would suggest that you compile a specific list of questions based on what is most important to you that goes well beyond topics such as available athletic scholarship money, admissions spots, coaching philosophy and program goals.

Identify various factors that will have a significant impact on the quality of your overall experience. Below you will find a series of potential questions to ask that will help you do so.


How much time is required to commute back and forth to and from training sites?

When does the track team actually have access to the facility they are showing you - particularly shared indoor turf fields that the football team also uses?

How often do you run from campus and how often to you travel to trails?



Is there an athletic trainer assigned specifically to the team?

Do you have access to the training room on the weekends, even after early Sunday morning long runs?

What type of preventive measures are used - ice baths, NormaTec, etc?

Does the school have easy access to an Altra G and/or an underwater treadmill?

Do they offer adequate support with physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists?



Are study hall hours required of all student-athletes?

What type of access is there to tutors?

What type of walk-in support is provided?

Do athletes get preferential treatment when enrolling for classes?



What time of the day do you practice?

Is there an athletic trainer on-site during practice?

Are nutritional needs adequately addressed on site - water and post workout recovery foods/drinks?



How many training shoes will you receive throughout the course of the year?

How often are spikes replaced?

What will your training kit consist of?

Will you receive adequate warm/cold weather and rain gear?



Who goes?

What criteria are used to determine travel squads?

Are there alternative meets if you don't make the travel team?



Is there a full-time staff member in the area of professional development specifically within the athletic department?

How supportive are the alumni in helping athletes find internships?

Will someone assist you in creating a resume and letter of application?

What are they doing to assist you with finding a job upon graduation?



What does a typical Saturday night consist of?

Does the team party and drink?

Do team members live together?

Where does the majority of the team live - residence halls or off-campus?

What is the food like - are there adequate healthy food options?


For more information concerning NCAA Rules and Regulations in regard to Official Visits – CLICK HERE 



Below you will find the general track and field recruiting standards NCAA I Power 5 Schools are using to determine how much scholarship money to offer a current prospect. Most schools have three standards that they adhere to:

1. WALK-ON -  For more information on NCAA I Walk-On Standards (CLICK HERE

2. PARTIAL SCHOLARSHIP -  For more information on NCAA I Partial Scholarship Standards (CLICK HERE)


Below you will find the performances that are needed to get a full-ride to an NCAA I school. 


EVENT       MEN / WOMEN                          

100m         10.35       11.50                

200m         21.00      23.50                         

400m        46.90      53.00                          

800m         1:49        2:07                              

1600m        4:04      4:47                           

3200m        8:50        10:30                         

110HH      13.65       13.50                   

300IH          36.50      41.80             

400IH          51.50       58.50                           

PV               17'          13' 3"               

LJ                25'           20'           

TJ                51'          41' 6'                         

HJ                7'             6'                        

SP              63'            50'             

Dis             200'           170'         

Jav            225'            160'        

Ham          225'            185'   



Below you will find general Walk-On Standards for Power 5 (NCAA I) teams. The standards below are not specific to any particular school, but rather an aggregate of numerous unpublished walk-on standards from college coaches at Power 5 schools. Obviously, the standards will vary from school to school slightly based on their particular strengths, weaknesses and conference affiliation, but the standards listed below will give you a good idea regardless of where you are looking. 

EVENT           MEN                WOMEN

100M              10.75              11.90

200M              21.65              24.60

400M             48.70               56.50

800M              1:54                2:15

1600M           4:19                 5:09

3200M            9:20                11:20

110HH           14.40              14.40 (100H Hurdles)

300IH             38.50              44.50

400IH             54.00              62.50

LJ                    23’                18 ‘ 6”

TJ                    47’                 38 ‘ 6”

HJ                    6’7”               5’6”

PV                   15’6”              11’6”

SP                    57’                  42’

Discus            165’               140’

Jav                  180’               125’

Hammer         190’                150’


USC Track and Field Recruiting Standards


How hard is it to compete for the USC Trojan Track and Field Team? Check out the standards below for the 2018 NCAA National Champion Women and the 4th Place Men. It is no easy task to run for the Trojans, but if you have what it takes to fill out their recruiting questionnaire below. 





2017-18 Mens Recruiting Standards.jpg
2017-18 Womens Recruiting Standards.jpg