A summer to remember Running: With school out, Notre Dame Prep's Carrie Kroll tried something new -- and discovered she's a world-class junior triathlete.

September 15, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Notre Dame Prep's Carrie Kroll (left) and Dulaney's Bianca Jay were incorrectly identified in a photo that appeared Sunday. The Sun regrets the error.

Carrie Kroll seems lost in a pinch-me kind of daydream when she talks about her whirlwind summer.

Between mid-May and the end of August, Kroll rose from being a better-than-average, high-school cross-country runner to being a world-class junior triathlete.

On Aug. 26, she finished 17th at the Junior World Triathlon Championships in Cleveland.

Just a few months earlier, Kroll could not have imagined herself ++ in such elite company.

She had trained two years for the triathlon but entered only a couple sprint events. In May, she tried her first standard-distance race, the Columbia Triathlon.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Kroll knew Columbia was a Junior National Team qualifier, but she set a simpler goal. "I just wanted to finish," she said of the 1.5 kilometer-swim, 40K-bike and 10K-run event. "I wanted to see if I could go for 2 1/2 hours."

Not only did she complete the race, but she finished third among women under age 19 and made the U.S. Junior National Team.

Next came a five-week stint at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. After extensive testing to determine her fitness level, Kroll went through a month of intensive training with the other 15 junior-team members.

Improvements came quickest in cycling. Kroll's background included very little biking but plenty of swimming -- competing briefly for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club -- and plenty of running. She earned All-Baltimore City/County honors twice in cross country at Notre Dame Prep.

Martha Sorensen, coach of the Junior National Team and a professional triathlete, was not surprised at Kroll's rapid progress.

"She really pushed herself," said Sorensen, adding that in Colorado, Kroll cracked a bone in her lower back when she fell and landed on her bike. "She was in a lot of pain for two weeks. I told her she could take it easy, but she worked through it. She's a tough kid."

Kroll plans to stick with her training, hoping to qualify again for the national team and compete next year in the World Championships in Australia. Beyond that, she hopes to run in college but has no specific triathlon plans.

"One thing I love about the triathlon is that there's several different ways I could go," said Kroll including training for the Olympics, where the sport debuts in 2000, or the professional circuit.

Time is certainly in her favor.

"With a multi-sport endurance event, the more time you put in, the better you're going to get," said her coach Troy Jacobson, fitness director at Meadowbrook Aquatic and Fitness Center.

"Her swim times are competitive with [those of] any pro women swimmers. I think she can eventually run with any pro. The question is her cycling. How she progresses depends on the time commitment she's willing to make. A lot of pros spend 10-to-15 hours a week riding their bikes."

Meanwhile, Kroll is concentrating on leading NDP to the Association of Independent Schools cross-country championship. The Pirates' top runner for the fourth year, she has helped NDP compile a 31-2 dual-meet record.

Kroll, a 3.9 student, finished second in the AIS championship and third in the state Catholic League championship last year, and is now a favorite to win both.

In the season-opener two weeks ago, she finished sixth in a tough field at the Goucher Invitational. "In the past I've done well," said Kroll, "but I feel like my times aren't an illustration of the fastest I can go."

NDP coach Ed Donnellan agrees. "She used to get nervous about running against certain individuals," he said. "But I don't hear her saying that anymore. I don't think there's anyone out there she's afraid of."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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