Today was an unusually busy day for us at TSR as we were consistently breaking more news than we could tweet. Below, we highlighted some of the major headlines from earlier today and discuss the potential implications that each news story has...
Morgan McDonald Signs with Under Armour
The idea of McDonald signing with Under Armour has been flying around the rumor mill for quite some time now and those familiar with the situation understood that this was a real possibility as early as last month. In retrospect, the decision makes plenty of sense when you consider that Under Armour is the official sponsor for Wisconsin's athletic programs and because McDonald's agent (Stephen Haas) recently joined Under Armour as a coach.
Not only that, but Under Armour has equipped their running division with a large budget in an attempt to expand their reach and improve already increasing sales. The professional training group District Track Club, which is based in Washington DC just outside of Under Armour's headquarters in Baltimore, was one of the first major recipients of this new funding. Now, with Morgan McDonald under contract, UA can market an elite distance running talent and make him the headline star of their respective brand as we enter an Olympic year.
Taryn O'Neill Transfers from Villanova to Northern Arizona
Much like McDonald, rumor of O'Neill's transfer has been floating around for quite some time. The rising sophomore now joins former teammates Rachel McArthur and Lauren Ryan as recent women's distance runners to transfer out of the Villanova program.
O'Neill had a phenomenal freshman year with the Wildcats, running a huge personal best of 9:13 for 3000 meters after finishing 6th at the BIG East XC Championships and 15th at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championships.
The ladies of Northern Arizona have quietly assembled a very strong team for 2019. They bring back six of their top seven from last year, all of which were considered freshmen and sophomores. After barely missing NCAA's last fall, the women from Flagstaff will be hungry for revenge and will likely rally around the newest weapon in their arsenal.
Amanda Vestri is Expected to Transfer out of Iowa State
Earlier today, The Stride Report confirmed that Amanad Vestri, a 15:55 5k runner and a top scorer for Iowa State, was exploring transfer options. The potential move is a crushing one for the Cyclone women who just recently lost middle-distance ace Jasmine Staebler to UNC and All-American Anne Frisbie to graduation.
With Vestri now gone, Iowa State will need to lean on Cailie Logue, a rising junior who put together a masterful string of performances during the 2018 cross country. However, with two of their top three scorers from last year no longer with the team, it is hard to imagine that Iowa State will make much of an impact on the national stage (if at all).
As for Vestri, where she ends up this fall could potentially swing the balance of power in the NCAA. After all, it feels like anyone could win the women's team title this year.
Colorado, New Mexico, Stanford, BYU, Arkansas, and maybe NC State are all teams who could make some serious noise with another low-stick on their team. Many of these programs may be tapped when it comes to scholarship money, but Colorado and New Mexico may have some available slots after losing a couple of veterans.
Regardless, Vestri's move will be a big one.
Sean Carlson Promoted to Head Coach of Notre Dame XC
At first glance, it may not seem like a big deal. Carlson was already overseeing the men's team and he had proven this past year that he was more than capable of handling a head coaching role. However, promoting Carlson - whether it was with a raise, title change, or both - further strengthens the already concrete idea that he isn't leaving Notre Dame this summer.
After seeing such a mind-boggling turnaround from their men's distance group over the past two years, Carlson was likely an attractive name for potential head coaching vacancies around the country. Promoting him to the official title of head coach, with whatever that may entail, likely keeps Carlson around for the time being. For Notre Dame, that must be a comforting thought, especially with so many high-profile coaching jobs popping up around the country.
Jill Miller Leaves Wisconsin for Northwestern
The head cross country coach for the Wisconsin women will travel two and a half hours south and maintain the same position for Northwestern - a program that has no men's team.
The decision for Miller to take the Northwestern job is an interesting one. The program has limited funding compared to a handful of other programs and faces significantly lesser competition compared to what the BIG 10 holds.
Of course, let's not think that Northwestern is a bad program. For the most part, it's a very respectable team that was responsible for developing All-American Aubrey Roberts. The Wildcat women return all but one of their varsity runners from last year's 5th place team at the Midwest Regional Championships. With Miller now at the helm, it is possible that we could see the ladies from Evanston, Illinois make it to Terre Haute later this fall (especially with Iowa State showing vulnerability).
As for Wisconsin, what happens with them? They just brought in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation and returned a number of top scorers for this upcoming cross country season. The Badgers recently released an opening for a women's cross country assistant role, so the idea of Mick Byrne taking control of that group is likely out of the question.