This past weekend signaled the beginning of a crucial recruiting season for Saucon Vally (PA) High School senior Talitha Diggs.
The fast rising talent from Pennsylvania finished her junior season ranked in the top 10 nationally in the 400m (52.82 seconds) and top 50 in the 200m (23.88), which created a volume of suitors hoping to gain her signature over the coming recruiting period.
Diggs was named MileSplit's No. 32 recruit following this past season, and over the next few weeks will be evaluating her final six schools--though she can only officially visit five.
Among those still in the picture are Texas, South Carolina, LSU, Florida, Stanford and the University of Southern California.
Diggs is the daughter of Olympian Joetta Clark Diggs, though over the past calendar year the young racer didn't take up her mom's chops in the 800m. Instead, Talitha showed a wide range of versatility in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
She had five performances under 55 seconds in the 400m over her indoor and outdoor seasons, and scored a Pennsylvania state record of 52.82 at the Class AAA Championships in June. She won an indoor title in February as well.
Meanwhile, Talitha finished with three straight outdoor efforts under 24 seconds in the 200m, culminating with the second of two outdoor state titles in Pennsylvania and a fourth-place finish at New Balance Nationals in an all conditions time of 23.36 seconds. She also broke 40 seconds four times in the 300m over the indoor season.
First up for Diggs this past weekend was Texas. Like most recruits, Diggs was able to see all the fervor of a wild football game at DKR Stadium in Austin, witnessing an incredible matchup between the Longhorns and LSU. But Diggs also was shuttled around campus, met Texas athletes and had a photo shoot inside Texas' facilities.
With four more visits on the horizon, Diggs said she's taking stock in everything.
"I'm definitely making a pros and cons list," she said. "And taking notes. I think I'll know at a certain point."
And yet, Diggs made sure to say she's going to take all of her visits.
"There's a lot of energy on each campus. I want to take all of them in," she said. "I want to give every single school an opportunity. I don't want to wish that I didn't go to that school. Another important aspect to all of this is getting to know coaches and meeting athletes on the team."
At least one team may have an inside track. Stanford recently hired Digg's uncle, JJ Clark, to lead track and field operations for the Cardinal following the departure of Chris Miltenberg.
To get an idea of what each program is like, Diggs says she's reaching out to those on the team. She's also speaking closely with her mother--an alum of the University of Tennessee.
Here are a few things Diggs is keeping in mind with each visit.
"When I look for a coach, I'm looking for a family-oriented program and a supportive coach who wants you to come to the university but also really wants to train you as an athlete. They know what you're capable of doing. I need tough love, too."
"I'm looking at the success they've had in the 200m and 400m and the 100m. I'm looking to see how I can add to that, to make it stronger. That's an important thing. With (Texas') Coach Floreal, for instance, he's had a lot of coaching experience in the areas I run."
"I'd like to work with a mentor. I like tough love. I think it makes you stronger. But while I want to be a great track athlete, I want to be a better person. I want an environment that gives me all those things."
"It's definitely an important factor to me. Being able to have teammates who can push me, mentally just be able to push me. They build the environment of the school, so what each teammate brings to that university is going to matter for me."
Based on signings over the past three seasons, here are sprinters who have signed with each program on Diggs' final list of six teams.
|Mikenna Robinson||Nequa Valley||Class of 2019|
|Brooke Jaworski||Wausau West||Class of 2019|
|Kennedy Simon||Westlake||Class of 2018|
|Kynnedy Flannel||Alvin||Class of 2018|
|Kyna Robinson||Southeast Raleigh||Class of 2019|
|Angel Frank||Summerville||Class of 2019|
|Jazmine Tilmon||Western Branch||Class of 2019|
|Stephanie Davis||Riverdale Baptist||Class of 2017|
|Jazymyne Frost||JSerra||Class of 2019|
|Jatana Folston||Cocoa||Class of 2019|
|Jan'Taijah Ford||Northeast||Class of 2019|
|Lanae Tava-Thomas||Rush-Henrietta||Class of 2018|
|Bailey Lear||Frisco Heritage||Class of 2018|
|Twanisha Terry||Miami Northwestern||Class of 2017|
|Chanel Brissett||Cheltenham||Class of 2017|
|Thelma Davies||Girard College||Class of 2019|
|Ariyonna Augustine||Long Beach Poly||Class of 2018|
|Kiya Oviosun||Southeast Guilford||Class of 2018|
|Alex Rossum||Buford||Class of 2019|
|Mary Gillett||Niwot||Class of 2018|
|Carolyn Wilson||Oaks Christian||Class of 2017|
|Semira Killebrew||Brebeuf Jesuit||Class of 2019|
|Alexis Brown||Kennedale||Class of 2019|
|Taylor Manson||East Lansing||Class of 2017|
|Bria Mack||Williamstown||Class of 2017|
|Lauryn Ghee||Grassfield||Class of 2017|