Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year: Running part of family for WM’s Kartalia
By Jeff Seidel
Baltimore Sun Media Group|
Nov 27, 2016 | 6:16 PM
Emma Kartalia loves to run with her father.
The Winters Mill senior trains on a regular basis, and her dad still runs all the time, so the two enjoy working out together.
Steve Kartalia's love for running is understandable. After all, the Westminster graduate (Class of 1983) won three Carroll County titles plus three region and two state crowns. So, his daughter's talent and love for the sport, well, it runs in the family.
And all of that took the younger Kartalia to another level this fall. She made winning the county title her goal and did just that during a strong season, which earned her Times Runner of the Year honors.
Kartalia said her father regularly gives her help. He still has an exhaustive knowledge of the sport and those who participate in it, gives her feedback whenever asked, and keeps a watchful eye on his daughter's training and competition.
She doesn't mind that people still recognizer her last name because of her father. In fact, Kartalia is rather happy for whatever he can do to help her.
"I hear it very often," she said with a laugh about people recognizing her name. "My dad knows, it seems like, every single runner in the state of Maryland. It's a cool thing. My dad has been a huge motivator and supporter to me in my running career."
The elder Kartalia already has started checking out running information about the America East, the conference where UMBC competes in, the school his daughter has verbally committed to and should start attending next fall.
"I'm really proud of her," he said. "She set a specific goal last fall and [reached it]."
That goal came out of a simple conversation that Emma Kartalia had with Winters Mill coach Ben Brown last season. He asked her what she'd be pointing to in the fall of 2016 — and winning the county meet was the answer.
To that end, Kartalia trained very hard over the summer. She ran about 30-40 miles a week, which gave her a strong base heading into the season. That proved to be more than she had before, and the extra work paid off.
"I just knew that if I put in the work, as I have the senior motivation, I knew I had a decent chance," Kartalia said. "I was very, very happy with the way this season went."
She ran well throughout the season but really picked it up after the first few weeks, starting in October with a fourth-place performance at the Crossfire Invite.
After that, Kartalia took third in the Wildcat Invitational before finishing sixth in the Gunpowder Invitational. Then came the Carroll County title meet, where she finished in fifth a year ago with a time of 21.04.
This time around, Kartalia fared much better. She won the race in 20:02.1, beating Century's Natalie Poulton, who took second in 20:18.74.
"She dropped a good amount of time each year and got used to how races work," Brown said. "She understood how to race and was very consistent day in and day out."
Kartalia then took third in the West Region and fifth in the state meet. Her performances played a big role in helping the Falcons win the county and region titles before taking fifth place at states.
Brown gave her a lot of credit for something else — leadership.
Winters Mill had some younger runners this season as four of the top seven did not have much varsity experience. Brown said she helped show them the right path, and that pushed the team to come together more as the season went along.
"She's kind of that extension coach that every coach dreams of," Brown said. "She learned by her [last two] years how to race, and everybody had to learn how to race fairly quickly this year."
Kartalia still will turn to her dad for running knowledge as time goes on. He's a fisheries biologist who won the state championships in 1981 and 1982 at Westminster. His daughter also appears to share his enjoyment of science as she's looking at a microbiology major in college.
They'll still run together whenever possible, trying to fit time into their various schedules. Emma also runs with her mother, Natalie, and this sport certainly is part of their family. The former county and state champion does not hide how much he enjoys running with the new Kartalia champion.
"I love running with her," Steve Kartalia said. "Any time there's an opportunity, I pretty much drop everything I might have and do it. At some point, I'm sure I'll be struggling to keep up with her."