In the end, tiny Providence College hit it big in landing the long distance superstar.
Erba made a verbal commitment Tuesday night to run for the Friars starting in 2013. She just made a visit to the Providence, Rhode Island school with an enrollment of 4,769 this past weekend.
“Without a doubt, Providence is where I’m meant to be,” said Erba Wednesday night following a practice session at WCHS. “It’s the place I fit in and it’s even more than I could have hoped for.
“It feels so good to be a Friar. I’ve just overflowing with joy when I think about it.”
Erba, who was sporting Friars socks Wednesday night, won the 2011 Indiana cross country state championship and will defend her title this Saturday in Terre Haute. The phenom broke her own state record this past Saturday in winning the New Prairie Semistate in a time of 17:06.9. Her time in the 5,000-meter event broke her own state standard of 17:12.5 set in winning the Culver Academies Regional title on Oct. 13. Some 90 minutes after her record-setting performance Saturday in New Carlisle, Mishawaka sophomore Anna Rohrer broke Erba’s new record by winning the New Haven Semistate title in 17:03.9. Rohrer is the lone runner to beat Erba in the last two years, doing so earlier this season at the New Prairie Invitational.
Erba, who also recently earned Academic All-State honors, won a state track championship in June in the 3,200-meter run. She then set a new meet record in winning the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals also in June.
A big key for the Friars in landing Erba was their long time coach Ray Treacy. The Providence alum, now in his 26th season as the Director of Track and Cross Country Operations, has quite the resume. Treacy has mentored 134 All-Americans, 11 NCAA individual champions, 142 Big East individual champions and 13 Olympians.
Erba has made no secret about the fact she is looking to compete past the collegiate level with a goal of being an Olympian.
“Coach Ray is the most incredible person,” said Erba. “He’s a great guy who cares about his runners and I felt a connection with him. Providence is the best place to go to get me where I want to go.”
Erba also took official college visits to Georgetown University and the University of Washington. Her father Scott is the girls track and cross country coach at WCHS.
“I’m just thrilled for her,” said coach Erba of his daughter. “I’m excited because she’s excited. It’s a place where she felt comfortable and she see the opportunities beyond college that coach Treacy and Providence will help make possible for her.
“I know my wife (Karen) felt great about everything when they went out there this past weekend. When Ashley came back, she had that glow about her. That’s what you want to see as a dad.”
Providence, which has captured one NCAA Cross Country Championship under coach Treacy, is a member of the Big East Conference. The Friars are currently ranked No. 10 in the latest NCAA Women’s Cross Country Poll.