Carroll becomes 1st Redeemer Lutheran runner to compete at PIAA meet
Thursday, November 8, 2018 | 7:42 PM
As Charis Carroll was starting high school, she was debating about if she wanted to continue with dance or if she needed to change her extracurricular activity.
After going on a run with a friend last year, Carroll decided she would pursue cross country.
In just her second year, Carroll finished in 20th place with a time of 22 minutes, 16 seconds at the WPIAL Class A championships at Cal. (Pa) on Oct. 25. With her performance, Carroll was Redeemer Lutheran’s first state qualifier for a cross country program that started four years ago.
Carroll finished 68th with her best time of the year (22:11) at the PIAA Class A championships in Hershey on Nov. 3.
“It was kind of surprising because last year I didn’t qualify, so I didn’t know I would make it. To be there with all the people where you knew they were all really good was intimidating,” Carroll said.
“The race was a little bit different since I was used to running by myself. There were constantly people around me because everyone is more near your level.”
Under the direction of head coach Nathan Loewe and assistant coach Dana Brown, Carroll went into the state meet with a simple mindset.
“I went into it mostly focusing on my time, and I didn’t focus on my place too much. I did the course the day before so I just knew I had to keep some of my endurance going for the second and third mile,” Carroll said.
Last year, Carroll finished 50th at the WPIAL meet in 22:36 and fell short of qualifying for the state meet.
Heading into the postseason meets this year, Carroll finished 39th (23:32) at the 16th annual Red, White and Blue Classic at Schenley Park on Sept. 8. At the Grove City Invitational, Carroll finished 24th in 22:16 on Oct. 6.
As she gained more experience by competing in more and more meets, Carroll became more of an expert on how to develop a game plan for a race, which culminated with her best time at states.
“I learned how to plan to run. Usually, I go out pretty fast, but I stayed more conservative in the first mile because I knew how tough the second mile would be,” Carroll said.
“A lot of people would burn out during that part. Just keeping your strength during the last part of it really helped because I think I started out in the race around 90th and end the race near 70th.”
With Redeemer Lutheran being such a small school — 36 students in the high school — Loewe was excited for Carroll’s accomplishments and eager to see how she progresses with more training.
Carroll went through limited training to prepare herself for the meets this season by spending a few days a week at the local Planet Fitness.
“She’s just naturally talented, and she just lets the talent and determination take over,” Loewe said.
With her seeing results in her new-found love, Carroll has dedicated herself to get into the gym to train harder to take herself to the next level for track in the spring and cross country next fall.
“It’s a sport that teaches you about continuing and finishing because through the whole thing it’s not easy to be just in pain and barely able to breathe,” Carroll said.
“Running happens to be something that I’m better at than a lot of people. It makes me feel a little bit better about myself.”
Andrew John is a freelance writer.