(Photo By Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Bolles senior Caitlin Collier will go down in Florida history as one of the best distance runners of all-time. Collier recently announced she will continue her academic and athletic career at Stanford University which is currently ranked 7th in the latest NCAA polls and were 5th at last year's NCAA Championship.
Collier's best event is the 800 meters. At the Nike Festival of Miles, she unleashed a monster final 400 meters, picking off a field of professional runners, and clocking a FL A-T #1 and US#1 mark of 2:03.32. One week later, she ran 2:03.63 to earn a spot on Team USA at Pan Am Juniors where she finished third overall.
She is a four time state champion in that event, three time state champion in the 1,600m with a PR of 4:50.48 from the 2017 state meet, and is a two-time state champion at 3,200m with an incredible best of 10:30.29. In addition to individual accolades, she has been part of numerous 4x800m relay title teams, and overall team titles.
Although she admits cross country is not her favorite, Collier was the 2A runner-up in 2015 after falling inches short of the victory. The Bulldog standout came back to win in 2016, place sixth at NXNSE, and make it to Nike Nationals. She's been an instrumental part in the team's run of four consecutive state title from 2012-2015 and runner-up finish in 2016.
We caught up with Cailtin to talk about the recruiting process, her decision, and more.
What was the recruiting process like and where all did you visit/consider?
The recruiting process is a very special experience in that, being an athlete, you get to truly experience what it is like to be a collegiate student-athlete during the few days you get to spend on the campuses you take official visits to. I decided to only take four of my five allotted officials and chose to see Duke, Georgetown, Princeton, and Stanford. Although the process was very busy due to me scheduling my four visits within a very short time period, the people I met and the experiences I shared with these teams were unforgettable.
In the end you chose Stanford. What was it that sold you on the Cardinal?
After a few weeks of discussion with my family and coaches, I decided that Stanford was the perfect place for me to purse both my academic and athletic endeavors. I have lived on the east coast my entire life but I have a strong affinity for the mountains and topography that is unique to the west coast. Other than its beautiful campus, Stanford's coaches and team were extremely welcoming and genuine. I will be looking forward to the great competition that Pac-12 has to offer and the new experiences that I will make on the opposite end of the country.
All the schools you looked at were both fantastic academic and athletic institutions. How important was balance for you?
The biggest factor in my decision was choosing a school where I would not be sacrificing academics for athletics. It's not every day that people get the opportunity to attend such academically renowned institutions. Since Stanford checked off my academic requirements, after I learned more about the tradition of success of its cross country and track teams, I knew that this offer would be difficult to turn down.
Over your time at Bolles you've won multiple state championships as an individual and as a team both in track and cross country. You beat professionals at the Festival of Miles, collegiate athletes at USA Juniors, and went to NXN. Are there any moments that stick out the most?
I've been very fortunate to have such a successful running career over the past few years. I am also extremely blessed to have such supportive friends and coaches who, without their encouragement and dedication, I would not have reached the level I am at today. One moment that sticks out to me the most was when my team and I won the 2A Track and Field State Championships last season as the underdogs. What made this win even sweeter was when I got to watch our girls 4x4 team compete. They all knew that, no matter where they placed, the team would still win. But, despite this, they all ran PR splits and smashed our old school record in the event. Remembering their race that night still gives me chills, as I can clearly recall the sheer amount of effort Aunikah, Monet, Rebecca, and middle-schooler Izzy gave to help us grab those last few point and further our team's lead.
You'll go down as one of the best distance runners ever in Florida history. What does that mean to you to know you've had such an impact on this sport in this state?
The success I have had thus far is very humbling to say the least. Running is a very challenging sport both physically and mentally and, to see results, you have to give it your all every single day and even then, things may not work out. Reflecting upon the experiences that I have had thus far, I am elated to know that I have helped to bring attention to our sport in Florida. To be in the record books near some of the greatest runners that the sunshine state has produced, such as Jenny Simpson when she was my age, is truly an honor and hopefully indicative of the latter success that the sport will provide me with if I should pursue running at the professional level after finishing my collegiate career.
Saturday will mark your 6th Cross Country Finals competing for Bolles. Over that time the team has won four straight titles and last year were runner-up. What will you remember most about wearing that uniform?
I will always remember the bus rides to Tallahassee. Before the trip, the seniors create a long-sleeved t-shirt with a quote on the back and unique names for each person in the top 20 and the coaches based on a theme of the seniors' choice. On the drive to states, the seniors all hold up the shirts one by one while the team laughs and guesses which shirt belongs to which person. This is one reason that the Bolles uniform is so special to me; my team runs together, jokes together, and fights together. When we all put on that jersey, we are in it for the team and, no matter how we feel while racing, we always give it our all for each other.
You've been sidelined for a couple of weeks with an injury. What are your plans for this weekend and postseason?
To ensure my health for track season and the future, I will probably not race this Saturday. I am upset that I cannot toe the line one last time with my best friends, but I know that they are prepared to perform better than ever at states this weekend. They have all put in the work and I'm very excited to see their efforts pay off.
What are your goals on the track this year?
I honestly haven't sat down and talked about my goals for track but, nonetheless, it will be to run fast.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to about running for Stanford and being part of such a great program and tradition there? Do you see similarities between your team now and future team?
I am very excited to be challenged by the great competition on the west coast. I will get my butt whooped on more than one occasion by the myriad of great runners I will soon be racing and, although most people see this as a bad thing, I view it as the most crucial aspect towards my growth as an athlete. I love more than anything when I get a chance to be the underdog in a competition and will have plenty of opportunities at Stanford to experience this. I cannot wait to get to know all of my new teammates while trying to win some championship titles with them by my side. Stanford definitely has a tradition of excellence in both its academics and athletics, which is what reminds me most of Bolles. Although I will miss Bolles, my team, family, and coaches more than anything, I am excited to see what the west coast has in store during my next four years of schooling.
- 400m - 56.71
- 800m - 2:03.32
- 1600m - 4:50.48
- 3200m - 10:30.39
- 5K (xc) - 17:41.80