Since I got some advice from the message board on my D's Ivy recruiting process, I thought I'd provide a wrap up in case it would be useful to a future recruit and/or family. I'm sure every recruiting process is slightly different, but this is how it went for us.
Our basic experience was as follows.
D was a 5:0x / 2:1x going into jr year, and thinking D3 / reach Ivy, with reasonable confidence her academics were strong enough to support her recruitment.
Reached out to coaches after January, through a combination of straight cold emails, and a few warm intro's via HS coaches.
D3 coaches were far more responsive and started active recruitment fairly early on. Very nice group of people! We ended up doing two high D3 recruiting visits, and both were great, but D had started eyeing the Ivy's more seriously at that point.
Ivy coaches came back with either "here are our recruiting standards, let us know if you get close" and the slightly more positive "thanks for reaching out, looks like you are getting close to our standards, keep in touch". A few coaches put us on mailing lists at that point for new recruits.
Mid-way thru jr. season she broke 5:00 / 2:15, so started getting more confident in the D1 route and retargeted on the Ivy's for real.
Overall, the Ivy coaches were fairly passive thru the season, not really engaging, even for schools where she had met the standard. The standard message board advice of keep them updated, and stay in touch thru the pre-read hurdle seems right. I'm sure if she was sub 4:50 it might have been different. But by mid-June we started to get nervous since we seemed a lot more keyed up than the coaches. Towards the end of June, they slowly got more serious, and sometime between end of June and middle of August we got pre-reads from 5 Ivy's. (BTW, our expectation was July 1st, so having coaches just drifting sideways was a little disconcerting, but they all eventually happened.) All the pre-reads came thru positive (mid 1400's, 3.8 UW).
We did a family East Coast unofficial tour at that point, which I would highly recommend. It got face time with coaches, a feel for the campuses, and got D oriented before having to think about OV's.
D ended up ruling out 2 schools during the visit, one due to location and one due to lack of interest. We had good visits with all the coaches and received warm feedback. One note here is that there is a difference between (1) we want you in our process, (2) we definitely want you at our school and (3) you are one of our top candidates. Coaches are pretty savvy and not necessarily direct on which type of positive feedback you are getting, and we left a bit more optimistic than we should have been.
She ended up picking 3 schools for OV's. This was tough as we are West Coasters, but she didn't want to risk not getting an offer, or passing up and opportunity and regretting it later. OV's were hard but really good for getting a feel. One school offered on site, one expressed high interest and said let us know when you are ready and we'll talk, and one said thanks for coming, we'll be in touch. (BTW, the thanks for coming we'll be in touch school was warm and positive during our OV, so we felt a little bait and switched when they basically passed, however it was good we did the 3 visits in retrospect.)
D's first choice ended up being the 'high interest' school. Much to her surprise, when she came back to them they had already made their first round offers and she wasn't on the list. But they were still very positive and told her to sit tight. She ended up having to wait a few weeks for their first batch of offers to come back. Fortunately her other school did not put time pressure on her, so she had a backup offer in hand, but it was still nerve wracking.
End of story - her target school had a slot free up, she accepted, but her ED application in and 10 days later she was done! She is thrilled, as are we.
Finally a couple of lessons for aspiring middle distance runners on this track:
- Low 10:00's / 4:50's / 2:10's is where you start getting pursued, everyone else is very candidate led process, and as per the above not always clear where you are at, so be active and just push through until you get a yes or no.
- When you get deep into the process, being clear and direct is super important. This isn't always easy for a 17 year old. But you need to be clear with them (e.g. you are in my top 3, but I don't want to hold a spot for you unless you are interested) and you need to ask them to be clear (e.g. am I in your first round, a target, etc.).
- There are tons of options other than an Ivy, so don't get so wrapped up that you lose sight of the bigger picture - the D3's are awesome and will love a 5:0x runner, and there are a bunch of other interesting D1's for the aspirational college student who would be great targets.
Thanks for the advice from all on the message board!