XC/TF for S25

Thanks in advance for sharing your knowledge.
I’ve been reading threads in this subforum for months now and have learned a lot.
S25 is interested in pursuing XC/track in college. He’s starting to think more seriously about what kind of school he’s interested in, etc., but he’s getting nervous about coach outreach. Academically, he’s got good rigor this year (4 AP classes, 2 last year). His first SAT he took cold in June and ended up with a 1200 though - he just retook it at the end of August. Fingers crossed for improvement there.
He had a great spring track season as a freshman (qualified for Nike Outdoor in his main event). This past spring track season was not as good for a variety of reasons, and he did not show huge improvement.
We live in a part of the country where there are very few, if any, fast in-state XC courses as compared to other places, and he is concerned that as a result his current XC PR (sub 16:40 last fall) won’t garner interest from the schools he’s considering reaching out to. I’m encouraging him to cast a wide net, but in some ways, he knows what he wants so this can be challenging. His season has just barely started, and his school will not fund transportation to races out of state. We’re working on figuring out how to make this possible for some out of region events later in the season, but in the interim, the in-state schedule is what he has to work with.
I am wondering about timing for reaching out to programs in which he’s interested, some of which are likely good academic fits, but will possibly also be reaches in terms of his times. Should he go ahead and start reaching out to those programs now at the risk of not generating interest, and then check back in when he’s hopefully got new times to share? If so, would using a freshman year PR for his track event be a bad idea? Or should he wait until he has times that he thinks will garner more interest at the risk of being 'late" to the recruiting process?

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He should definitely start reaching out now, filling out recruiting questionnaires at schools of interest and following up with emails. Coaches know that XC courses vary widely so XC times are not as important as track times. High placements in larger meets (big invitationals, state series, and postseason) are good. He can update via email throughout the season and then also during track season.

Be sure to cast a wide net. Make sure schools pass the “broken leg” test and are also affordable since there isn’t much money available for XCTF scholarships.

Good luck!

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Hi there, my S25 is also a track athlete. It feels weird contacting coaches with only one season’s worth of times (he switched from 800 to sprints last year so he’s just has his sophomore high school times) but some people here convinced me it wasn’t too early. He did indeed get responses from several schools and I suspect as his grades and times improve there will be more. Nearly all coaches said that they aren’t going to get heavy into recruiting for 2025 until January of next year but they were glad he had reached out. This was for D3 and some lower D1 schools.

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It is great to have a goal of being recruited and running for a college team.

At the same time, many go on to participate in club running.

Something to consider, bc many students may receive academic merit scholarships and then run for a club team. (In contrast to being offered a small stipend to run on a college varsity team.)

https://clubrunning.org/

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Yes, and many student athletes on the college varsity teams also receive academic merit scholarships. Being a varsity athlete does not preclude one from receiving merit scholarships or financial aid. Some schools will stack your athletic scholarship with merit.

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@politeperson

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He has no reason to be nervous. He’ll find a place to run if that’s what he wants.

A lot depends on his track times and what schools he’s targeting. Did he qualify for the championship section at Nike? If so his times are probably good enough to get interest at a lot of places now. If it was the EE or frosh sections then maybe not.

As mentioned, coaches look at track times more than XC times. They know courses and conditions aren’t uniform. Not every recruited kid gets to run at Woodbridge every year. They care more about placing at big invites, state meets, NXR.

I don’t think I’d sacrifice performance in the important meets to travel far for a fast XC time. It’s fine if it fits in and works with the overall plan, but most kids only have so much in the tank. Definitely try to get to NXR in your region, focus on the state meet, and if a big invite works out then fine. But it’s the track times that’ll drive recruiting interest for the most part.

Anyway, he’s not behind at this point and a lot of guys aren’t even thinking about this until they see where they are after junior track season. (Yes, recruiting in track has moved up for some programs and some athletes but for the vast majority it’s still a fairly late recruiting sport).

If you can provide a sense of what his track times are like (keep it rough to maintain anonymity) and what sorts of schools he has in mind we might be able to give more tailored advice.

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I will second that coaches don’t really care about XC times. Most coaches assume that a student athlete’s best XC time came from a short course, unless the coach knows the course. (and sometimes they know the course is short!). XC is all about place at big meets. If your son’s HS doesn’t go to bigger meets during the season, he can still qualify for your sectional and state meets. Regionals are outside of the high school cross country season, so you might be able to bring him to this on your own. If his HS coach isn’t supportive of this, check last year’s results to see if there are any local runners who did regionals and hit them up for information on the logistics.

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Thank you - sending you a PM with some more info. He qualified for the freshman section at Nike as a freshman, but didn’t meet the EE or championship standards this spring.

He’s looking for spots with at least 2000 kids (he thinks 5000 is his sweet spot), with good academics but not a super pressure-cooker. Most likely leaning towards the liberal arts, although Econ or applied math might be on the radar. Southern New England south as far as Georgia and west as far as maybe CO, although he is not sure if that might be too far. I’m trying to get some smaller D3s on his list to research that might be academic and possibly running fits (e.g. St Olaf), but that’s been hard.

This is all very helpful and it’s a relief to know he is likely not far behind. We’re working on getting his team to one out-of-state invitational and we’re discussing the plan for the post-season options but remaining focused on having a really great state meet first.

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What’s his GPA?

End of sophomore year UW GPA was 3.8. He took two APs last year (APUSH and APLit, received a 4 and a 3 respectively). His school does not rank.
This year he has 4 APs - calculus AB, Bio, AP Lang, and AP Gov, plus Spanish IV and band. Second crack at the SAT yielded a 1240… conversation forthcoming about rethinking his testing strategy…

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He has a great GPA. He can always go test optional, I wouldn’t worry too much about SAT unless he’s got his heart set on an ultra selective school. So many great XC programs in the Midwest and northeast… have you looked at times on runcruit or tffrs websites to see where he might fit in?

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@politeperson would you be willing tomessage me? I have a couple Q’s about track recruiting. Your profile is locked down.