Top 20 Recruit Christopher Caudillo Picks Cal Poly

NLI SIGNING WEEK IS HERE -- In the world of recruiting, there is one truth: Sometimes what you want isn't always what's best for you. 

And for Clovis High School senior Christopher Caudillo, MileSplit's 15th-ranked recruit in the Class of 2023, that certainly couldn't ring more true. 

Like many other athletes with the kind of brimming potential that NCAA Division I programs covet, Caudillo had his dreams centered around a few schools that, for many years, had been on his bucket list.  

But over the ensuing recruiting process this past fall, he found those options didn't necessarily come to fruition as he had first hoped. He took four official visits to Georgetown, Washington, NAU and Cal Poly.

Related Read:

Ryan Vanhoy is ready for the next step

His fifth didn't happen for a lot of reasons, but the main one was this: It just didn't feel right. 

And so from there, he pivoted. He named his top four as Cal Poly, NAU, Oklahoma State and Texas, even though he didn't visit the latter two teams. Then, as he narrowed down his choices, Caudillo came to a realization that one of those four was tracking him from start to finish. 

By Sunday, he made his decision known, committing to Cal Poly, a men's team with a new coach, a new identity and new aspirations. 

"Cal Poly stuck with me through the whole process," said Caudillo, who will be eying up a CIF Division I state cross country title in a few weeks. "I really enjoyed the process with them."

For Cal Poly's Ryan Vanhoy, the program's new Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, Caudillo's commitment and eventual signing represents something he promised when he first was hired: That he can recruit some of the best athletes in the country. 

So far, Cal Poly has locked down both Caudillo and Bille Issa, another top California distance runner, along with Buchanan's Sydney Sundgren

Perhaps it's a bit odd that with someone with Caudillo's versatility -- with junior PRs of 1:54.77 in the 800m, 4:03.83 in the 1,600m and 8:45.19 in the 3,200m -- wasn't on the wish list of every school in the country. 

But ultimately, that's Cal Poly's gain. 

What will speak to Caudillo's long-term appeal is to his development.

One look over his resume, you can glean his work rate. He raced 31 times over the 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m last spring, winning 12 times, including a CIF outdoor 1,600m title in May. This fall, he's won five out of seven times across multiple distances and has locked in a 5K best of 15:03.90. 

The season isn't over, but Caudillo maintains he's going after his first CIF Division I state title, a qualification to nationals, and a big finish to the season. 

"I really just want to have fun with it, more than anything, he said. "It seems like there's so much pressure on this season. I don't want to think about it, the placement or time in those meets. I will take things as they come." 

A couple things drew Caudillo to Cal Poly, the first obviously being Vanhoy's position as head coach. 

"It made me want to be a part of a team that surrounds itself with talent," Caudillo said. "Anything can happen in a few years. It's really an appreciative group." 

What also helped, though, was location -- the campus was roughly 150 miles from Clovis -- and Vanhoy's track record of developing some of the best middle-distance runners in the country. Recently, Nike's Craig Engels left his training group (Union Athletics) in favor of relocating to California, where he would work again with his former Ole Mis coach 

"Seeing Mario Garcia Romo win so many national championships and then go to the World Championships and place fourth and run 3:30 in the 1,500m, he was working with Vanhoy when he was going through that. That got me interested in the team, the success he's had."

From here, it's up to Caudillo to determine how his future will end up. But right now, he believes Cal Poly is the best environment for him moving forward. 

And to be a part of this class? Caudillo think it's an honor. 

"I look at the Class of '23 as one of the most, if not the most, competitive classes in history." 

Related Links: 

Birnbaum commits to Oregon

Hana, Amanda Moll commit to Washington