Taylor Ciccolini said her recruiting process was methodical, an abundance of well-designed spreadsheets marking pros and cons of each university.
The Mifflin County senior and track and field star tracked everything, from academics to campus life and job placement assistance programs. When you’re one of the nation’s rising throwers, methodical is good.
So is having a familiar face to train with and push you to bigger, and certainly longer, distances.
Ciccolini recently decided that her future was some 900 miles from Lewistown at the University of Missouri, where she’ll join the Tigers’ “crazy” track and field program and work alongside older sister, Skylar, a Mizzou sophomore.
“Obviously, my sister being there will be an added bonus for sure, but I tried to keep any bias as low as possible when I went through the recruiting process,” said Taylor.
“When I first added Missouri to the list, I didn’t figure they would end up at the top. However, by the end, it clearly was the best choice, for academics and the javelin.”
Ciccolini narrowed her potential picks to Stanford, Brown, Oregon State, Missouri and the University of Pennsylvania.
Like her anticipated junior season in the spring, official visits were all but wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic. But Ciccolini did have some local knowledge about Missouri and its distinguished program.
“I can’t wait. It will be great training with my sister again,” Taylor said. “Obviously, she’s very competitive. Mizzou has a crazy javelin program, it’s an elite camp.”
Sister Skylar’s second straight PIAA javelin title in 2019 saw then-sophomore Taylor finish third. Naturally, expectations were high heading into 2020, but the season was eventually shelved just one week before the first official dual meet.
“It was pretty rough, but it probably would have been worse if I wasn’t going to get the chance to compete at all,” Taylor said. “I kept training.”
While opportunities over the summer were slim, Ciccolini, mixing in some form of practice 5-6 days a week, competed in a virtual national series event in late-May.
Run by the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation and AthleticNET, the meet gave Taylor a chance to submit a personal-best 149′11, more than 3-feet better than her bronze-medal mark in ’19.
“Honestly, I never sort of set number goals or feel like one meet is the be-all, end-all,” she said. “My firm goal right now is to get some sort of track season in the spring and compete to see where I stack up. It’s been nearly a full year off from competition, so it will be interesting.”
Follow Eric Epler on Twitter — @threejacker