River Hill cross country runner Katie Harman is preparing to defend her state title in the 5,000-meter run in three weeks.
Though she didn't start out longing to be a runner, the sport is in her genes. Her dad ran cross country at Howard High, and her older brother ran at River Hill.
River Hill's coach, Earl Lauer, said he sees Harman, a senior who carries a 3.7 grade point average, repeating her winning state performance and, perhaps, improving on it. A year ago, she won the crown by completing the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, 54 seconds. She also holds state titles in indoor track in the mile and two-mile.
Postseason competition begins today with the Howard County championships.
I understand you've recently been busy with college recruiting trips?
Yeah. It's been really fun, but stressful. It's like every weekend, and I miss Monday classes and have to get caught back up. We get five official [visits], but I'm going to add one or two unofficial to that.
Where have you been so far?
I'm not really allowed to say where I've visited. My mom doesn't want me to say what colleges I've visited. I'm not really sure about my top choice. But they're all Division I.
Can you talk about these visits generally?
Yeah. The first day, you meet the coach and meet the girls, meet the team, which I think is very important because if you spend your whole college career with them you should be with people you enjoy hanging out with. The next day, I get a feel for the college campus. You stay overnight in a dorm ... and you can go to a class. Last week, I sat in on a chemistry class. It's cool to see what size the classes are, how they're teaching it. You eat in the cafeteria and see what their food is like. You just learn a lot about the schools, the academics and take tours of the campus.
When will you make a decision about the schools?
Basically, I hope to make a decision in the next month or two.
How did you discover you wanted to run cross country?
I was a soccer player. But I went to a cross country camp when I was in middle school. I took the camp, and I really liked it. My brother ran cross country the year before I came into high school, so I was familiar with it. I talked to Coach Lauer and he was great, so I tried it my freshman year and just stuck with it.
Once you started competing in cross country, what did you like about it?
I loved the people. Once I started doing it, I just loved them. Our team is so tight - all the guys and girls get along together. The people who run cross country are my friends in school. I just love them so much.
What's the best thing you've ever done?
Last year, winning states was the best. Not only did I win, but our team - both the guys and the girls teams - won states. In my entire high school career, that was like the best day. After putting in all the hard work, it just tied everything together.
Homecoming is tomorrow. Do you have a date?
Yes, with Craig Morgan. He runs No. 1 for our boys cross country team. It was funny. He hadn't asked me yet, and I told him it was getting late and if he didn't ask me soon, I was going to get another date. We've been dating for a year. So, he asked me, and I said yes, and he said, 'Now pretend I didn't ask. I want to do something romantic.' The next day - we share a locker - I opened the locker and there was a little beanie bear holding a sign that said, 'Katie.' Inside, there was a message asking me to be his date. I wrote 'Yes!' and put it back in the locker.