Ripley senior Tori Starcher verbally committed to continue her cross country and track & field careers at the University of Notre Dame on Oct. 9.
Starcher, currently ranked ninth in the MileSplit 2020 top recruiting rankings, selected the Irish for the program's esteemed running success, academics and social life, picking Notre Dame over schools like Oregon, Stanford and Duke.
"I thought Notre Dame clicked all the boxes, so that was a big reason why," Starcher said in picking the Irish.
Starcher certainly earned the right at her pick of schools, as she has dominated not just West Virginia high school distance running, but ranks among the nation's best.
In addition to her 10 West Virginia state titles, Starcher set a new meet record in the mile at the Penn Relays in April with a time of 4:38.19, breaking Mary Cain's former record. In doing so, Starcher elevated herself to the No. 7 U.S. high school all-time list.
"I would say the Penn Relays one was probably the one I'm most proud of," Starcher said. "Strategy wise and performance wise, it kind of all came together. I would say that's definitely my most favorite race."
In addition to the Penn Relays, Starcher also competed in the prestigious Millrose Games in New York City and the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina. Starcher ranked top 10 nationally in the 800, 1500 and 3200-meter run during the indoor season.
Unfortunately, for Starcher, she wrapped her prep cross country career with the diagnosis of a stress reaction in her left tibia on Sept. 27.
Starcher ends her cross country career with one Class AAA individual state title, which she captured as a sophomore. Starcher, the reigning West Virginia Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, led the majority of the 2018 state meet before dropping late.
With her cross country season over and college decision made, Starcher will soon turn her focus to her final high school track and field season.
"It's definitely to have a nice weight off my shoulders," Starcher said of her college selection. "I would love to win a national title and better my times and continue improving upon last year. I think those are the big goals coming into this track season."
As a junior, Starcher captured individual titles in the 800, 1600 and 3200 in helping to lead the Vikings to its second consecutive state championship. Additionally, Starcher ran as part of Ripley's first-place 4x400 relay. In total, Starcher's efforts resulted in two individual state meet records (800, 2:08.40; and 1600, 4:46.61), and her 4x400 set the mark in 4:01.64.
While Starcher excels no matter the event, each presents its own challenge, she said.
"I think if I give my best effort in any race, I always want to say that's the hardest," Starcher said. "I definitely feel the burn after the 800. That one is not a joke.