Katelyn Tuohy Explains Why She Chose NC State & Picks Her Favorite HS XC Race After Winning Record 5th Gatorade POTY Award

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By Jonathan Gault
February 7, 2020

Katelyn Tuohy isn’t done breaking records. After closing out a high school cross country career that saw her set the course record at Nike Cross Nationals (twice) and become the first athlete to win three NXN individual titles, Tuohy made more history on Thursday by becoming the most decorated athlete in the history of Gatorade’s Player of the Year program. Tuohy was presented with her third consecutive Gatorade National Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year award, which gives her five in total (she also won for track & field in 2018, the same year she was named overall Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year across all sports).

Tuohy did a quick phone interview with LetsRun.com after she was presented with her latest award on Thursday afternoon, where she discussed why, despite all her individual honors, she has the most fun in cross country being part of a team. We also covered her favorite races in high school and why she chose NC State — where she’ll join Foot Locker runner-up Marlee Starliper, three-time FL finalist Alyssa Hendrix, and three-time top-five NXN finisher Claire Walters in an all-time recruiting class.

Photo courtesy Gatorade

JG: Looking back at cross country, how do you feel about your 2019 season as a whole?

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KT: It was all right. I had a lot of fun with my teammates, so that was really good. I didn’t run as fast as I wanted to at nationals, but I think a lot of factors contributed into that. But I think overall it was good though, just because I had a lot of fun and finished my high school career on a high.

You said you didn’t run as fast as you wanted to at the national meet. What do you think were some of the factors?

Well I was injured over the summer and had to take a month off. And then I was just dealing with a lot of stress and pressure with committing to college and everything. But I was still able to win, which was pretty cool.

What was your favorite cross country race you ran as a high schooler?

I’m not sure. I think maybe this year we went to North Carolina and ran Great American, and that was really fun because we got to drive down together and then spend two nights in a hotel. So that was really fun. 

And what about your three NXN titles — does one of them stand out as your favorite?

They all have a special place. My first one was my first one so that meant a lot. Junior year was pretty cool because I broke the [course] record. And then my senior year was my last and the first to win three times. So they were all pretty meaningful to me.

So you’re going to NC State in the fall. What made you choose NC State?

There’s a lot of reasons. I think one of the things that stands out the most is just the coaches. When I was on my visit, I talked to them and it kind of clicked. I really liked them a lot, I liked their philosophy, kind of liked their intentions, team-wise and individual-wise. There’s a lot of great girls on the team that I know already and great girls that also committed in my class, so I’m really excited to go to NC State and help contribute to the team success as well as continuing my individual career.

I know that Kelsey Chmiel (the NXN runner-up behind Tuohy in 2017 and 2018), whom you used to run against in New York, is there as well. Did that have anything to do with it?

Yeah, Kelsey’s a great runner and I got to know her a lot over the last couple years, so it’s pretty cool that I’ll be able to be her teammate.

You said you really like the coaches’ philosophy. Was there anything in particular about it that you really believe in or that really appealed to you?

I just like that they made it clear that they’re going to keep my best intentions in mind — if I’m injured, they’ll get me the help. And I also like that they found the team dynamic important, because that’s what I like. They have a great cross country team — they came in fifth at nationals this year — so hopefully next year I can help contribute to the team’s success..

I know you’ve raced a couple times this year indoors already. You ran against the pros a couple weeks ago in New York at the Dr. Sander Invite, what did you think about your performance there?

I don’t think it was my best performance — well obviously it wasn’t — but I kind of just put it to the side and focused on the rest of my season.

What goals do you have for this indoor track season?

Well hopefully we can go to nationals and do well in the DMR again because we’ve won four in a row. So hopefully we can go down there and win our fifth in a row.

A lot of the stuff you’ve talked about, it seems like you really enjoy the team aspect of running, both in high school and looking ahead to college. What is it about being part of a team that you really enjoy? 

I just like the team aspect, it’s a lot more fun that way. I guess it just makes it a lot more fun.