Racing scene gets a double shot of talent


The area racing scene has picked up at least two steps.

Two-time Constellation Classic champion and 1996 Olympic hopeful Steve Kartalia has moved back to the area, taking up residence in Ellicott City.

And three-time collegiate All-American Jeff Cannada, also a 1996 Olympic hopeful, has settled in Columbia while his wife Lisa attends the University of Maryland Medical School.

Area racers probably will recognize Cannada's name. He finished sixth in this year's Constellation and won last month's Bel Air Town Run 5K and 5Karibbean Run.

But, in addition, he finished 14th overall and was the second American in last week's Peachtree Classic 10K in Atlanta and ran a 14-minute, 8-second 5K in the Atlanta International the previous week.

Kartalia, who finished 25th in the Peachtree, will be training with Cannada.

"It [training] has helped us both quite a bit," Cannada, 27, said last week. "We just complement each other. I'm speed-oriented; he's strength-oriented. As far as strength goes, he can drag me along. We both realize our goals. We help each other out, rather than tear one another down."

Besides residing in Howard County and aspiring to the 1996 Olympics, Cannada and Kartalia have something else in common: They are both on the rebound from injuries -- Cannada from a series of knee injuries and Kartalia from plantarfasciitis-- an inflammation of tissue in the sole of the foot.

"I missed the [1992] Olympic Trials because I had surgery right before them," Cannada said. "It's taken me awhile to get back because I had a series of knee injuries after the surgery, which doctors say is normal. I'm finally feeling back on track, so to speak.

"Ultimately, my goal is the Olympic Trials in '96. Immediately, I'm training for the later part of the summer -- on the roads around the country -- with the possible inclusion of a marathon this fall. Right now, I'm just looking forward to getting back to shape."

Cannada, who has raced nearly every week since the Constellation, says he hopes to run a 5K in Chicago this weekend.

"I've raced quite a bit -- by a lot of people's standards, too much," he said. "But you have to get used to racing again."

But there is an upside to that kind of schedule, especially when rebounding from an injury, Cannada says.

"Whereas most people are burning out at this time of the year, I'm just chomping at the bit."

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