Collegiate track and field is certainly not an individual sport. Team titles are the primary objective for any program, whether that title is gained at the national level or just the conference level, athletes are expected to score for the team. Knowing the program that is the right fit will help an athlete not only get recruited, but also maintain a successful collegiate career.
Coaches recruit based on an athlete’s accomplishments, potential, and fit for their program. Despite common misconceptions, recruiting is not about the best mark. Each event is evaluated differently, which makes it important to understand what coaches are looking for to maximize your chances of landing a track scholarship. Here is a simple breakdown for each event group, and how to maximize options for an athlete.
Talented sprinters with natural ability are always in high demand. Sprinters have the largest range of events meaning more ways to score. This is the reason that the most scholarship money will be allotted to this group. Every program will pursue the best “bang for their buck”, meaning a 60m runner that can do a 4×400 relay will be highly favorable, and vice versa.
This group is seeing the largest change at the college status, so coaches will favor more towards the strong runners with good mechanics and top-end speed. Due to the speedy 400m runners stepping up, and the strong milers stepping down, middle distance runners will see a lot of the cross-country course and the track. The need to be versatile will prove well in the ability to score points.
Again, points are essential, so athletes in this group will be asked to run anything from 800-10K for points, so an athlete that can handle added distance in training will be profitable. It is a travesty that Cross-Country and Track are considered one sport in college, but it’s the facts. A distance runner must be able to do both. Coaches are interested in how the athlete trains in high school and their running style and characteristics.
This group is very specialized, so the ability for an athlete to consistently prove good marks is a must. All programs need this group, but due to the low opportunities to score, only the top athletes are scouted if looking for scholarships. It is all about opportunities to score, so it would be better if the athlete could also compete as a sprinter/runner, if not the top athlete in jumps. It also would be wise, if looking for scholarships, to research the depth of athletes in a program. A program with a quality jumper will not look for another if the program is not highly invested in the group.
Good size and athleticism are attributes coaches will look for in this group. Heavier weight than high school, athletes must have to ability to get stronger. Good programs will build themselves around a strong group of throwers in a way that will compete against other programs. Being dominate in this event an either add points for the team, or cancel out points from other teams, being a good strategy for programs.
Staying up to date with current marks will always give a good idea as to where an athlete should start searching for schools. A Division 1 school is always appealing to pride, but may not be logical for success. Coaches give scholarships based on how an athlete will score. Check out marks from around the nation and figure out how you would stand.