The Top 15 Recruiting Stories Of The Past Year

* Georgia's Caryl-Smith Gilbert holds up a trophy after the Bulldogs were second at the NCAA Indoor Championships in 2023

Photo Credit: Georgia Athletics

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MileSplit is your source of truth for recruiting news in track and field. 

We've been covering this beat for over six years now, with weekly analysis and insight into what's happening on the ground. 

MileSplit's coverage touches on the nation's top ranked recruits across every signing class, but we also report on and write stories you care about -- the coaching moves, the top ranked classes, athlete signings and developing stories across the NCAA. 

Led by our esteemed NCAA recruiting writer Tim Casey, we'll continue to bring you top-notch coverage over the new year. 

In the meantime, we wanted to take you back to all the great content we produced in 2023. 

Below, we have gathered our top 15 recruiting pieces from the past year. If you have a new story to tell, make sure to email us at 

Big Signing News of 2023: Avery Lewis is the last key piece for USC; Adaejah Hodge signs with Georgia; Makeriah Harris signs with LSU; No. 1 recruit Christian Miller fakes out audience, then picks Georgia; Bryce Barkdull takes talents to Kansas; Shamar Heard is headed to Tennessee; No. 1 girls recruit Mia Brahe-Pedersen picks USC.

Our 2023 National Letter of Intent Hub

INSIDE RECRUITING: Find all recruiting stories here

RECRUITING RUNDOWN: Our series page for commitments, signings and recruiting rankings

Related Links: 

The Class of 2024's Top 50 Girls Recruits: Fourth Update

The Class of 2024's Top 50 Boys Recruits: Fourth Update

The Class of 2025's Top 50 Girls Recruits: Third Update

The Class of 2025's Top 50 Boys Recruits: Third Update

The Class of 2026's Top 50 Girls Recruits: First Update

The Class of 2026's Top 50 Boys Recruits: First Update

Photo Credit: David Nguyen/MileSplit

15. Maira Scott Might Just Be Ohio's Next All-Time Sprinter

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Publish Date: November 6, 2023

Maybe it's hyperbole to say that Maira Scott is the next Abby Steiner. While the current Ohio sprinter oozes potential like Steiner and is just tenths of a second away from two state records (owned by Steiner), she's the kind of athlete who is dead-set on forging her own path. Her story is about sacrifice, dedication and a willingness to dig deep. 

Ask Maira Scott, because that's what the Holland Springfield (OH) senior has sacrificed since March, after she left her indoor season searching for more. She'll say that sacrifice helped her earn two outdoor state titles in Ohio and two massive individual personal records that are among the fastest times in Ohio history. 

Full Story

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today

14. Arkansas Planning To Go From Legend To Next-In-Line

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Publish Date: February 8, 2023

Just how often does a coach get to pick his successor? The answer: Not often at all. But not everyone is Lance Harter. The Arkansas track and field coach is an absolute ICON, and in the fall of 2021, he had the foresight to begin looking at the future of his program.

What followed was a conversation with his athletic director, and from there a decision to name Chris Johnson, his top assistant, as Harter's replacement after his retirement. This story is an important one. It's shows what kind of coach and man Harter has always been. 

During the fall of 2021, Arkansas women's track and field and cross country coach Lance Harter met with athletics director Hunter Yurachek to discuss his future. Harter had been with the Razorbacks since 1990 and had built the program into a national power. Still, Harter knew he was getting older and would step away at some point. He also wanted to make sure that Chris Johnson, his top assistant, wouldn't leave for another school when it came time for him to pursue his own head coaching opportunity. 

Photo Credit: University of Alabama

13. Will Palmer Was Happy At Alabama. Then Florida Called. 

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Publish Date: January 27, 2023

It's funny how life works sometimes. Will Palmer was happy with his job at the University of Alabama. But then a fortuitous phone call came his way.

And as the famed Godfather line goes, it was an 'offer he couldn't refuse.' Palmer replaced departing Florida distance coach Chris Solinsky in Gainesville and then began to oversee a team of talented young athletes.

Since these fast-moving series of events, Palmer has led Parker Valby to two national titles over the outdoor and cross country seasons. 

Then, a series of events took place. The University of Florida's distance and cross country coach Chris Solinsky left his position to become an assistant at the University of Oregon. The Gators identified Palmer as their top choice as his replacement.

12. Athletes Hoping For A Last Chance? A Scholarship Awaits At NSI

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Publish Date: June 1, 2023

Obtaining a scholarship in track and field is not as simple as running fast or throwing far or jumping high. It takes a little bit of luck, the right kind of interest, and then good-faith discussions with coaching staffs. This past year, Hassan Stamps decided he wanted the scholarship offer process to be a little easier, so he jump-started the National Scholarship Invitational, an event designed to give unsigned athletes an opportunity to compete at the next level. The first edition of the meet took place at IMG Academy. Here's that story. 

The end result on Saturday will certainly be a different kind of meet. Beyond the procedural identity of the event -- races featuring high school athletes hoping to earn scholarships -- Stamps said there will also be interceding promotions like "dash for cash" and other games featuring spectators. The entry fee was $85 per athlete for an unlimited number of events. 

Photo Credit: Bryce Stalter/MileSplit

11. A Surprise Phone Call Led Rachael Uvieghara To Sign With USC

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Publish Date: November 30, 2023

How often do high school athletes get phone calls from track and field legends? Better question: How often would those athletes even know who they were speaking with?

In the case of Rachael Uvieghara, one of Florida's top young sprinters, when she answered the phone one night in May, she had no idea who Quincy Watts even was. But that phone call led to more conversations and, ultimately, a commitment to USC, the program Watts leads as the Director of Track and Field.

Uvieghara credits her mother, Alero, and father, Godwin, for helping her through the years. They moved to Florida from Nigeria 19 years ago, shortly after the birth of their first child, Michelle, who is now a thrower on New York University's track team. 

Full Story

Photo Credit: Pittsburg State Athletics

10. Pittsburgh State Is A Top Recruiter, And One Of DII's Best

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Publish Date: March 7, 2023

Possessing the ability to see talent that no one else sees is an important quality for a track and field program. Enter Pittsburg State, an NCAA Division II outlet out of Kansas, which has carved a niche out as one of the top recruiters in the nation for its division. In 2020, the men's team signed Cordell Tinch, a former athlete at the University of Kansas who was looking for a better environment. In recent years, the program signed Xavier Carmichael, a top recruit out of Virginia who ran 10.04 in the 100m this year. In June, the men's program won a Division II national title. 

"Recruiting is about just making connections, knowing people and building out a successful program that people enjoy being a part of," Rutledge said. "We pride ourselves on making sure that we develop athletes and help them achieve their goals."

 Photo Credit: Aisha McAdams

9. The Decision Behind Sophia Gorriaran's College Choice

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Publish Date: February 10, 2023

One of the country's top middle-distance runners, Sophia Gorriaran, felt a strong sense of place when she visited Harvard Square. So when it came time to determine her plans for the future, she zigged just slightly, away from the Power 5 track programs that had spent so much time wooing her. Instead, she looked closer to home, roughly 50 miles from Providence. She chose Harvard. 

A modest rundown of her career bests over the indoor season showcases PRs in the 60m, 300m, 400m, 500m, 800m and the mile. All were achieved in Boston. So maybe there was something there when Gorriaran narrowed her final five choices down to two, picking between the Texas Longhorns and the Harvard Crimson. Harvard Square was just a 2.5 mile jog from that same track.

Photo Credit: Kansas MileSplit

8. NAU's Success Funnels Down To Recruiting Wins Across U.S.

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Publish Date: June 1, 2023

Since being hired by Northern Arizona University in 2016, Michael Smith has completely transformed the men's program into a legendary force, with five national titles over that stretch -- he was an assistant on its first title in 2016 -- and two runner-up finishes.

The often undersold factor in that success, however, has been Smith's ability to turn bargain-deal recruits into stars -- such as Abdihamid Nur, an Arizona state champion for North High School who wasn't on anyone's radar at the time, or Elise Stearns, who was the second-best recruit on her Missoula Hellgate (MT) team in 2019. 

Recently, the Lumberjacks received commitments from two of the top distance runners in the Class of 2024: Payton Godsey of Oaks Christian (CA) and Clay Shively of Wichita Trinity Academy (KS). Both runners began hearing from the NAU coaches last summer and the interest intensified as they each have had impressive junior years in cross country and track.

Photo Credit: Chet White/UK Athletics

7. Tim Hall Succeeds Mentor Curtis Frye As South Carolina's Head Coach

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Publish Date: July 20, 2023

This story reinforces the power of good relationships. You never know where your career might take you, and so building on and developing connections within the NCAA Division I ranks can sometimes be the gateway to a new opportunity. 

That was the exact pathway for Tim Hall, who succeeded Curtis Frye at South Carolina in July. Their professional rapport began at a coaching clinic just over 20 years ago. 

As a young assistant coach at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte in the early 2000s, Tim Hall attended a clinic at the University of South Carolina. That day, he met Gamecocks head coach Curtis Frye. Despite their 20-year age gap, Hall and Frye struck up a friendship. They grew so close that Hall considered Frye a mentor and confidant, someone he could reach out to with questions about any topic.

Photo Credit: MIT Athletics

6. How MIT Became An NCAA DIII Cross Country Powerhouse

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Publish Date: No. 16, 2023

Who would have thought that MIT, considered one of the top institutions in the U.S., has one of the top NCAA Division III cross country programs in the country? Well, that's only part of the story. 

Riley Macon often has trouble keeping track of all the inquiries. Each year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's distance and cross country coach receives dozens of emails from high schoolers interested in joining the team and attending the school. The hard part, though, is getting kids admitted.

Photo Credit: Texas State Athletics

5. This Texas State Recruit Turned Into A Major NCAA Talent

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Publish Date: June 6, 2023

Chris Preddie's story is proof that not all roads lead to a Power 5 conference. The Texan was recruited by major track and field programs, but he ultimately chose a place close to home and one that he felt comfortable with.

As a freshman, he qualified for the his first NCAA Championships, giving Texas State some special recognition in the process. 

Preddie's inclusion will be significant, though. The Texas State men's team has not scored a point at an NCAA outdoor meet since 2011.

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

4. Can Joe Franklin Build A Track Powerhouse At Louisville

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Publish Date: August 28, 2023

It's never easy to re-start and build from scratch, but if there's any man who has the experience required, it's Joe Franklin. The former national-title winning coach at New Mexico was hired by Louisville in June. Can he make the mid-pack ACC program one of its best? 

Franklin is hoping to accomplish at Louisville what he also did at Butler and New Mexico, winning league and NCAA championships.

Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant/MileSplit

3. Emily Bush Is Bringing It Home With Signing To Providence

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Publish Date: May 9, 2023

There's something to be said about tradition. When it came time for Emily Bush to start thinking about her future, she had two options: Become the next athlete in her family to attend Providence, or step outside and try something new. 

Following in the footsteps of a parent or a sibling isn't always the easy step, but Bush ultimately found resolve in that decision, signing with the Friars. And there's nothing like a great family story. 

"I've seen so many girls improve under Ray's training," Bush said. "He's such an amazing coach and (Braz-Rocha) is amazing, as well. I definitely feel confident about my decision."

Photo Credit: Georgia Athletics

2. How Georgia Redefined Its Recruiting Successes In A New Era

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Publish Date: April 14, 2023

We can safely say that Caryl Smith-Gilbert is the best recruiter in NCAA track and field right now. Over the last two years, she has amassed absolutely incredible classes, full of stars from all over the U.S.: Kaila Jackson, Will Sumner, Autumn Wilson, Zavien Wolfe, Brody Buffington, Mekhi Gammons, Adaejah Hodge, Christian Miller, Michelle Smith and many more. 

But the former head coach and national champion of Southern California knows a cardinal truth about track and field: In order to win, you must have talent and depth, and when those two things click, special things happen. 

This story examines her successes over the last year and explains how those building blocks have been placed. 

Although Smith Gilbert grew up in Denver and ran at UCLA, she is no stranger to the South or the SEC. She was an assistant at Alabama from 2000 to 2002 and Tennessee from 2005 to 2007 before leaving to become the head cross country and women's track coach at the University of Central Florida. She left for USC in 2014 but was drawn to Georgia two years ago to compete in the SEC, which is the deepest league in the country.

Graphic: Peter Flores

1. Behind The Cost Of Track And Field Recruiting, As An Arms Race Brews

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Publish Date: September 20, 2023

Just how much are NCAA Division I SEC track and field programs spending to acquire talent? You might be surprised to find out those very numbers. While the money allocated by universities specifically for track and field recruiting is only a fraction of what most NCAA football teams spend, there is a growing list of teams which are using ballooning funds to get a head start on long-term visions. In most cases, those decisions have major ramifications -- and rewards -- down the line.

The world of NCAA recruiting is awash with cash. But what might surprise you is how much -- or how little -- NCAA track and field programs in the SEC are spending in order to acquire the best talent. With no cap on the amount of money a university's athletic department can spend, some track programs are making sure they're not being left behind.