By Chris Chavez
December 6, 2023
North Carolina State star Katelyn Tuohy has decided to forego the remainder of her NCAA eligibility to turn professional, and has signed a contract with adidas, she told CITIUS MAG in an exclusive interview before her announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
“The conversation started last year in the spring and was kind of up in the air,” Tuohy says. “It was like, ‘Should I do cross? Should I not?’ And then I was like, ‘I have to do cross. I love it too much.’ I knew all season that this was going to be my last season. It's been a rollercoaster, but I guess my time has come.”
Ahead of the Olympic year, Tuohy plans to remain under the guidance of NC State coach Laurie Henes and may split time between Raleigh, North Carolina, and a possible training stint in Flagstaff, Arizona, to train at altitude for the first time in her career.
Earlier this fall, Tuohy wrapped up one of the most decorated NCAA careers by a distance runner with four individual NCAA titles (2022 NCAA outdoor 5000m, 2022 NCAA cross country, 2023 NCAA indoor 3000m and 5000m); three NCAA cross country team titles (2021, 2022 and 2023); three NCAA records (4:24.26 indoor mile, 8:35.20 indoor 3000m and 15:03.12 outdoor 5000m), 11 All-American titles, and five ACC championships.
Despite her long list of credentials, Tuohy is still only 21 years old. In 2022, she became one of the first collegiate cross country runners to sign a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) deal - also with adidas - and has amassed a sizable fandom that includes over 100,000 followers on Instagram. At the most recent U.S. championships, she finished 7th in the 5000m, the top collegian in the event. If Tuohy achieves the Olympic qualifying standard (14:52.00) and finishes in the top three of the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials next June, she could become the youngest woman to make the U.S. Olympic team in the 5000m.
Tuohy’s final race in a Wolfpack uniform came at the 2023 NCAA Cross Country Championships, where the team managed to win by one point over top-ranked Northern Arizona (123 to 124) without running Kelsey Chmiel, who finished third at the 2022 championships. Despite feeling ill, Tuohy led the team with a fifth-place finish in 19:23.0 for the 6K race.
“I came around to 5K and Henes was there going crazy – and she never does that,” Tuohy says. “She's really composed most of the time. I was like, ‘This is how I know it's really close. I need to rally here.’ I don't remember much of what happened in that last kilometer.”
“I remember I got to the bottom of the hill right before the finish and I was like, ‘I know I have like 50 people within 10 seconds behind me right now. I need to be at the front of this bubble because every point counts.’ That's what was going through my head. Then, I finished and found out we won and was just so overwhelmed. It was awesome.”
The team also saw big performances from Sam Bush and Amaris Tyynismaa – who both earned All-American honors – and became the first program to win three consecutive women’s cross country national titles since Stanford’s threepeat from 2005 to 2007.
“It was almost like a movie, honestly,” Tuohy says. “It's still surreal to me that we were able to pull that off without Kelsey. Amaris hadn't finished a race yet at that point and it was Leah [Stephens] and Grace [Hartman]’s first time running at a national championship. They're both champs. I know they were hurting really bad. It's really cool looking back at it that we were able to pull it off.”
Tuohy arrived at NC State as the top recruit in the country out of North Rockland High School in New York, where she won Nike Cross Country Nationals three times and set four national high school records: the outdoor mile, outdoor 3200m, indoor 3000m and indoor 5000m. She was named the Gatorade girls national cross country and track and field runner of the year and also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior.
“It’s cool to see one of your dreams come true,” Tuohy says. “I remember one meeting we had in high school where my coach was saying how he'd never coached a professional runner. And then he turned to me and was like, ‘Yet.’ So that was the first time I was like, ‘OK, someone believes that I can make it happen’. It's been really cool over the past few years chasing this dream and finally having it come true.”
You can listen to the full interview with Katelyn Tuohy on the CITIUS MAG Podcast – available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your shows. You can also watch it on The CITIUS MAG YouTube channel. You can read the full transcript here.
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.