As a coach myself, I can tell you I have one girl this year who was very competitive at state this year, but is never going to be a great college runner. This girl couldnt run a half mile without crying her first month of practice 4 years ago. At the end of the season, she could not break 28. At the end of her second season she was low 23's. This is not a girl with a lot of talent. This year she is a 19 flat girl, but probably does not have a lot more. She will run for a college next year. But I dont ever expect her to be a top college runner.
You can get to the level of a college runner with A LOT of hard work in a good program. (not saying mine is great and no way on the level of many elite programs) This girl works her butt off. She will never be outworked. But for a girl putting in as much work as she does, she should really be running faster than she is... She just is not a naturally talented runner. It happens. You can only develop so much. You need some natural talent.
We can look at these great coaches from big well known programs, who take kids who are willing to work hard, and make them good high school runners. Put a kid who will work really hard and stays healthy into a good program, and you are going to have a kid who is really successful in high school.
In college all the good high school runners are now in good programs. Now you kids with not much natural talent, and kids with a whole lot of natural talent all working wisely, in 4 years it wont be close if they both put in the work.
This is why so many really good high school coaches have kids who dont excel at the next level.
Just one's opinion....