Alli Cash is used to being chased, so her college recruitment proved to be a unique experience.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Cash, a Shawnee Mission West senior, wanted to go to Oregon. Pretty much every distance runner wants to follow in the footsteps of distance-running legend Steve Prefontaine.
Cash is no different, but the Ducks also were about the only cross country/track power that hadnt recruited her.
For distance runners, its kind of everyones dream to run at Oregon, Cash said. So last summer, I actually sent in a recruiting thing to them, because I had never got anything from them.
Cash filled out a recruiting questionnaire online, but again she got no response.
I figured they had enough people and didnt want me, Cash said. But I thought it was weird that I never heard back from them at all.
Turns out, Maurica Powell, an Oregon assistant in charge of womens distance running, was very interested, but Cashs inquiry got lost in the shuffle as Powell returned from maternity leave.
It wasnt until midway through the fall cross country season as Cash was steamrolling toward a second straight Kansas Class 6A championship that Powell finally touched base.
She told me, Yeah, weve been going through some life changes and we never saw your questionnaire. We definitely would have responded, Cash recalled. I told her, Thats good, because I totally thought you didnt want me. Obviously, I was glad to hear back from her.
And Cash, who also has seven Class 6A track gold medals in the last two seasons, had no trouble forgiving Oregon, picking the Ducks over Stanford and Kansas.
When I visited there, it just felt right, said Cash, who was awestruck by the Nike-funded training facilities and winding trails around campus.
She also said the supportive atmosphere fans pack the stands for track meets at Hayward Field, which played host to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials last summer was a major draw.
My dream is to run in the Olympics, but Im going to take it one step at a time, said Cash, who will continue running cross country and track. The first thing is going from high school and transitioning into college, but Oregon is probably a really good place if I want to do that.
It doesnt hurt that the Ducks share facilities with the Oregon Track Club Elite, giving Cash a chance to see many current Olympians firsthand.
Out there on my visit, (two-time Olympian) Andrew Wheating was just walking around, training in the same facility, she said. I went on a run and came back to stretch, and there he was working out in the same room. I was like, What!
Perhaps the next generation of distance-running greats one day will have the same reaction to seeing Cash.
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com.