Since 2015, Michigan's women's cross country team has finished no worse than ninth at the NCAA Cross Country Championships.
So even with the addition of Katelynne Hart next fall, the Wolverines will simply be adding fuel to the fire. But the No. 4 ranked recruit in MileSplit's ranking of the top Class of 2020 recruits could be also be an important catalyst for Michigan.
Is she the first domino to fall?
A handful of top distance talent still remains undecided, including the likes of New York's Katelyn Tuohy, the country's No. 2 recruit, and Zofia Dudek, the No. 14 prospect who resides in Ann Arbor and has shot up the national rankings this cross country season. Lest we forget Jaden Theis, the high school senior attending Lansing Catholic -- in Michigan State territory -- whose sister, Olivia, attends Michigan.
Michigan will figure out its recruiting ranks soon enough, though Hart represents a very big get for the Wolverines.
The 10-time Illinois state champion has the kind of spectacular range that college coaches covet. She's also one the
best distance runners in Illinois history, regardless of gender, and has etched her
name in the high school all-time record books across event disciplines.
This fall, she's currently US
No. 2 at 3-miles with a best of 16:00.70, and she's chasing her fourth consecutive cross
country state title soon enough.
She won an Arcadia Invitational
title in the 3,200m last spring, was runner-up at Brooks PR in the 2-mile and also posted a runner-up finish at the New Balance Nationals Indoor in the same event. She's ranked top 10 all-time across six events over her high school career.
She also earned three US No. 1s last year in the indoor 1,600m, 3,200m and outdoor 1,500m.
With a resume
as detailed and dominant as that, her talents might easily transfer over to her first year in Ann Arbor and should allow her to fight for a spot on the program's top seven right away.
The women have won
three consecutive Big Ten cross country conference titles, from 2016-2018, and are the
defending Great Lakes Regional champions. Last year, the Wolverines placed fourth at the
NCAA Cross Country Championships, which was their highest team podium finish
since being runner-up in 2016.
The women recently placed third at the Big Ten
Championships, behind nationally ranked Wisconsin and Michigan State.
two-time Foot Locker Championships runner-up and multiple-time NXN All-American, seems to be an easy fit with recent additions like Ericka Vanderlende and Anne Forsyth -- two Michiganers who decided to stay in-state with the Wolverines.
On the track,
Michigan's had spurts of dominance over the past few seasons, with its last conference titles being in
2016 when the women swept indoor and outdoor conference crowns.
With a program
that has a heavy underclassmen presence with 11 freshmen and 20 sophomores,
Michigan is leading with its youth, but Hart's
commitment to the Wolverines could be a game changer.
It's pretty much proven
that elite talent is a magnet for talent alike, and with plenty of blue-chip distance
recruits still out there, the senior could be a deciding factor.
Dudek, whose father is a visiting professor at Michigan in its economics department, trains minutes away from Michigan's campus. The distance
talent ranked top-five nationally in four events indoor, and top 15 in three
events outdoor. Also, undecided
and within the grasp is Theis, whose sister was one of the 11 incoming freshmen.
And let's not forget Tuohy, either. The New York superstar has been mum on her potential future, so anything is possible.