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Carmel Cross County Star Katie Turk Ready For A Not-So-Normal Season

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

The best high school cross country runner in Section 1 is, for once, biding her time.

Carmel’s Katie Turk, also one of the best in the state, is thankful for the return of fall even if it might be a bit of a truncated cross country season this fall.

But that’s what the coronavirus pandemic has wrought. After the virus canceled the end of the winter high school season, all of the spring season, and delayed the start of fall sports in Section 1 more than a month, Turk has learned to roll with the punches.

And even keep a sense of humor.

Asked if she’s been training in recent months anticipating a return to running in a Rams uniform, the senior cracked, “Well, technically, we’ve been training since March if you think about it,” she joked, referring to doing nothing but training runs with no competition.

But as optimistic as she is, it’s also disappointing that, because of COVID-19, cross country will change. There will only be dual- or tri-meets this season. There will be no weekend invitational meets that draw the best runners from the Hudson Valley, the state and, in some cases, the northeast. It is at those meets where the elite runners, like Turk, hone their skills both physically and mentally.

“Yeah, it’s a little discouraging,” she said. “The dual meets are great, but I was looking forward to racing elite athletes, especially being a senior going against the best of the best. I was planning on having a breakout year and those high-level meets don’t exist anymore. It is challenging, mentally, to not be able to do that.”

Turk was ready for a breakout in name only. She is already highly regarded but ran in the shadow of North Rockland’s Katelyn Touhy, a national champion as a high school runner who is now attending North Carolina State University.

But even if the cross country season is not the same, Turk has already built up her credentials. She finished eighth in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships in the fall of 2019 and 10th overall counting private and Catholic school runners. Nothing should hurt her college chances and, in fact, she is already winnowing her list.

“If it was a normal year I would have committed early,” she said.

For now, her lists consists of some of the best schools in the country – Syracuse, Maryland, Cornell, William & Mary and James Madison, among others. Until then, she will pad her resume with club track meets and be ready when the season begins.

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