Bethel Park’s Emily Carter commits to run at Oklahoma State

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Friday, August 14, 2020 | 2:55 PM


Emily Carter is heading west to continue her cross country and track and field pursuits.

The Bethel Park senior distance running standout has verbally committed to Oklahoma State in the Big 12.

Carter said she informed the Oklahoma State coaches Wednesday and posted announcements of her decision on social media including Twitter on Friday morning.

“This is a huge relief off my shoulders, and I am really happy with my decision, both for athletics and academics,” said Carter, who is keeping up with a daily training regimen.

“It is one certain thing that I have with all the uncertainty of the school year and my cross country season.”

Carter said she quickly formed bonds with the coaches and her future teammates.

“I talked to the coaches and got a good idea of their goals for the program and how I can be a part of that,” Carter said.

“I also had a couple of Zooms with the team members. Even though we’ve only met that way, I feel we have connected really well. They are from all over the country and the world. There are so many great personalities, and I know I will fit right in.”

Carter won’t be alone as a representative of Western Pennsylvania. West Allegheny graduate Maddie Salek, a rising junior, runs middle distance on the track for the Cowgirls.

The future teammates competed against each other in the 800-meter run at the 2018 South Fayette Invitational. Salek, a senior at the time, won the event. Carter, as a freshman, placed sixth.

Last fall, the Oklahoma State women’s cross country team won its first Big 12 title since 2015. It was the second conference crown in program history.

Head coach Dave Smith earned Big 12 Women’s Coach of the Year honors, and he helped two runners — rising junior Molly Born and rising senior Taylor Somers — earn All-American status. They picked up 16th- and 18th-place finishes, respectively, at the 2019 NCAA Division I cross country championships.

Big things were planned for the Oklahoma State women’s track and field team in the spring, but the season was cut short when the NCAA canceled all events amid safety concerns with the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Carter said that while the Oklahoma State campus is 1,000 miles and a 16-hour drive from Pittsburgh, all of the positives outweighed any distance issues.

“I love all the advantages of the program and the facilities. It’s going to be a great place for me to train and get better,” she said.

Carter won a bronze medal at last year’s WPIAL Class AAA cross country championships at Cal (Pa.). One week later, she finished runner-up to Moon’s Mia Cochran at the PIAA meet in Hershey.

She won WPIAL and PIAA 3,200-meter titles as a sophomore in 2019, setting a PIAA record with a time of 10 minutes, 16.02 seconds in the process.

She hopes to make an impact on area cross country courses this fall after her spring track and field season was eliminated.

The PIAA postponed the start of the fall season until Aug. 24 as it hoped to have more time to communicate with Gov. Tom Wolf after Wolf recommended interscholastic and recreational youth sports be postponed until at least Jan. 1 to prevent potential coronavirus spread.

“It’s definitely hard not knowing what everything is going to look like this fall, but the best I can do is continue to prepare and be ready if we do have a season,” Carter said.

“It’s my senior year. I love to race. I think we can have a season safely. But if we don’t, I could still do some time trials and have a good season.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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