She was coming off a big freshman campaign in both sports. It took awhile, but she has worked her way back. Her toughness, running ability and leadership skills shined through for college coaches.
Doty took some time to sort through her opportunities. The senior decided to sign with McPherson College to run track and cross-country.
She made it official Tuesday in the school library.
“I really liked the atmosphere when I visited,” Doty said. “The girls were awesome. I have always had the mentality I wanted to continue. It is something that is part of my life.
“I definitely started looking my senior year. I knew as soon as I was there that is where I wanted to go. The program is starting to look pretty promising.”
McPherson coach cross-country and track coach Cameron Magnall is in his second season. He guided the women’s cross-country team to two fifth-place finishes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference meet. Five of the seven cross-country team members are freshmen.
Doty said having teammates that close in age makes for a cohesive unit.
Ottawa cross-country coach Chris Kornhaus, who also is the distance coach in track, said Doty showed her mettle in dealing with her leg surgery.
“She was tough enough to stick through it,” he said. “She has learned how to deal with the situation. It is especially nice for Erika. She is a great student.
“Finding a program where she felt comfortable and knows she can make a contribution right away that is a real positive. She will find success there.”
Doty turned in her best times of her cross-country career this past fall and hopes to carry that over into the spring track season.
“I and definitely improving,” she said. “I had a better season in cross country. I want to go out with a bang. Hopefully go back to state and end off on a good note.”
Doty is a middle-distance runner for the Cyclones track team and expects to continue that at McPherson. She has qualified for state in the 800-meter race and on Ottawa’s 3,200 relay team.
Kornhaus said Doty can achieve a lot before leaving for McPherson. He would like to see her take steps forward this spring.
“She is way more healthier than last year,” he said. “She stepped up and took a leadership role [in cross-country]. That will be an asset to McPherson. They are quite young and trying to build something.
“That will be a way she can contribute.”
Doty saw firsthand how to deal with injuries. Former OHS standout Jena Richardson also dealt with an injury-plagued career that has followed her to Ottawa University.
Richardson was a senior when Doty came into high school.
Doty said Richardson was an inspiration in their one year together and their friendship blossomed from there.
“She definitely has been influential,” Doty said of Richardson. “She has kept in contact. I still text her, call her and ask her for advice. She has been there for me the whole time.”