Advice on Track and Field Recruiting for high academic performing student rising senior

Hi all,

I am looking for information on how a student should approach Track and Field recruiting as a rising senior.

My son was not considering running in college because he didn’t think he was fast enough. He wasn’t particularly fast in 9th grade and in 10th grade Track was cancelled. However, this past season he really improved without much training .His school program is not competitive and he was reaching his peak right when the season ended (8 weeks long).

His best time is the 800 m at 2.00 but he feels confident he could shave a few seconds off of that. His 1500 was only a 4:22, but he ran that the first weeks of the season.

It seems from looking at different websites that these times are barely recruitable (walk on territory). However, he would love to improve them enough to make him a viable candidate at schools with selective admission.
Best outcome would be if he could get an admissions bump because of track but not sure that is realistic

He would probably need to attend meets this summer and demonstrate the he is faster than the times he already posted,

His academic stats make him an attractive candidate.

GPA : 4.2/4.33 GPA, 11 APs through plus two semesters of college math senior year
Testing: PSAT 1510, likely NMSF/NMF
ACT: 35
State level awards: Debate, running
Regional awards, Music, Writing ,
Other leadership/service activities, published research in excellent journal.

Any thoughts on how he could approach this summer to put himself in a better position for recruiting are welcome.

He is not interested in LAC, only Universities .

Thank you,

He doesn’t do cross country? Or indoor?
Is there summer community youth track and field with meets? Are you near colleges? Some college coaches have summer camps.

Does he have a membership USATF?

Thanks for replying. I will check these out

He does do x-country but best time was 17:10 I believe so not that fast HI school doesn’t really do indoor track (no coach some kids do it on their own) and this year it was cancelled. He did Nordic his sophomore year but didn’t this year because of debate. He didn’t train much between end of x-country and beginning of track which is why he thinks he can be faster.

I’m sure he can be faster, but he wants to avoid overtraining and injury and missing fall season. XC builds muscle in summer.

My D did high school track and her coach would look for open meets out of season/ just after high school season ended. Most have qualifying times. New Balance Nationals, Penn Relays are popular on east coast.
There are some youth training programs, try reaching out to local public school with active program.
Is his school on this website? Can search for meets, too.

Some coaches have paid membership to milesplit website, has state and national data.

So * my recollection as a casual observer* is that a strategy for 800/1600/3200 is to gradually increase mileage, over summer for fall xc.
Focus on all aspects, rest, recovery, get enough sleep, proper fitting shoes, improve nutrition, to avoid injury. Some cross train with swimming instead to also build lung capacity.

With Olympic trials this weekend, you may pick up some ideas about how or with whom to train. Might be able to hire virtual coach with references from USATF or local college.

For recruiting, he can fill out recruiting questionaires for each college.
But to be “recruited athlete” for admissions bump, he needs times that the college needs. Quite a puzzle.
For example for Johns Hopkins.

Note: The above website error in DI low recruiting standards as a 4:16 time in the 1500 meters is way too slow.

Note: Error in NAIA 1500 meter top recruit time (as a 3:05 is significantly better than the world record time).

Otherwise, this website is very helpful, in my opinion.

1 Like

Congrats to your son on a solid season. 2 flat is pretty good for an undertrained junior. Seems like he has a bright future in the sport.

I agree that his marks aren’t quite there for recruiting at this stage. 1:56 is usually what starts to get serious recruiting interest at D3s, and most of those are going to be LACs. For Ivies and the like, which is what I assume you have in mind with selective universities, 1:54ish might get interest from the weaker programs. But if he keeps improving he’ll have a great chance to walk on at any of those programs, and of course club will be an option at many schools. So continuing the sport doesn’t rest on getting admissions help up front.

I’d probably give it another month at most to see if times improve. Longer than that will eat into cross country training and is unlikely to bring much additional improvement in the 800. Given that time frame, I wouldn’t look to ramp up mileage or anything like that. I’d continue what he was doing during the season or ask the HS coach for advice. You can check the USATF events calendar for events in your area.

At some point he’ll want to email coaches and fill out the recruiting forms at schools of interest. He can always update those as his times improve.

Leaving recruiting aside, the best path to a rewarding senior year of running for your son is a solid summer of training for XC. That’ll bring a ton of improvement for the fall that he can build on over the winter. Coming into track season with 9 months of aerobic development makes a huge difference. And if he’s running well during XC season, that might help a bit on the recruiting side also. So I’d just be mindful of the trade offs being made if he stretches the competitive portion of track season too far into July.


That’s a helpful site for understanding scholarship limits in track and field. I’d take the recruiting standards with a large grain of salt though. 1:47.14 for the 800, listed as a top D1 recruiting standard, would be the third fastest all-time HS 800. Even throwing in grad transfers, I’m not sure how they ended up with some of those times. I agree that they err on the slow side for some also.


If I followed the OP correctly, the son is a rising senior. He should be in the middle of recruiting this summer. By the time next track season starts, college admissions will be wrapping up.

1 Like

Yes. What I’m suggesting is that he not let the quest for a recruitable mark this summer interfere too much with the training that will lead to a satisfying senior year of running. By satisfying, I don’t mean helping with admissions. I mean continuing to improve and enjoy the sport.

1 Like

Thanks to everyone for the information @Publisher @Hippobirdy @Donadminstrator @politeperson . It is exactly what I was looking to figure out (Ie would a coach be interested in a high -stats kid with untapped running potential) and it seems like he would not be recruitable for any school he is currently considering.
I also don’t think my son will have the time and training over the summer to improve beyond 1:56 . He came to the 800 late in the season after focusing on the longer distances. He also didn’t train seriously during the off -season for track, instead focusing on debate.
So I agree with @politeperson that he should focus on getting his mileage up for this X-country season in the fall and focus on enjoying his last high school season with his team.

The good news is your son has an academic record that will open doors for him. Some (but not all) programs will have opportunities for athletes who can get themselves in, and these athletes will be evaluated on times from senior year.

It sounds like your son already has a list of schools he is interested in. See if they publish walk on standards, or reach out to the coaches to see if they take walk ons and what that process requires. Some will respond, some will not. Also see if the schools have active club running programs. For a kid with outside interests, club running might be a more rewarding college experience.


T&F recruiting has an early phase and a late phase, and the late phase is much later than other sports. I know several athletes who have received offers in May/June, even at schools whose application deadlines were January 1. Senior Track season can really help if you run well.