Kelsey Schrader was looking for three specific things in picking a college.
The DeKalb senior wanted a university that would help her in a future career, further her growth as a runner, and remain strong in her faith and religion.
She found all of them in the University of Arkansas and verbally committed on Friday to run cross country and track and field for the Razorbacks next year. She will sign her national letter of intent in February. Schrader was also considering Minnesota.
"My visit to Arkansas was just over the top," Schrader said. "Those three things were so present there. I just couldn't ignore that."
Schrader had never really considered Arkansas until she received a letter from the coaching staff after her junior year. She sent the recruiting questionnaire back and kept in contact with the team until making an unofficial visit to the campus in Fayetteville.
She went back for an official visit later on and stayed overnight.
"It was really nice to see that and I think that was the time where I really fell in love with the whole campus and the girls on the team," Schrader said.
Arkansas has one of the most successful collegiate cross country programs in the nation. Under coach Lance Harter, the Razorbacks have won 14 Southeastern Conference titles in 24 years, including this past season. They placed 15th at the NCAA Championships this fall.
"Coach Harter he's kind of like a legend in the coaching realm for running. To be able to get to know him so well … it was a wow factor at first," Schrader said. "I know he can develop really good runners. He's worked with a wide range of runners, he's coached some Olympians before. Having a coach with that type of record, it's hard to turn down."
Schrader, who was named the Daily Chronicle Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year each of her four years and finished fourth at the Class 2A state cross country meet this fall, said she was helped in the recruiting process by her older brother, Nick, who runs for Southern Illinois.
Now Schrader will enter her final track and field year with her college plans finalized.
"It's definitely a relief knowing that I have my college decision made and I don't have to worry about that anymore going into track season," Schrader said. "It's also a lot of motivation. It makes you want to go a little faster and reach your next best and get to a new level."