Long distance is her calling

High schools: Kacie Remeto began running at age 6, and the McDonogh sophomore hasn't looked back since.

April 05, 1999|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Even at age 6, Kacie Remeto was turning heads on the track.

As her father, Stuart, would run laps at Fallston High School trying to stay in shape, he would notice his daughter, who often tagged along, trailing behind him.

"At first, she was just running to fool around, but, after awhile, she was trying to stay with me," recalled Stuart Remeto, a physical education teacher in Baltimore County and former shortstop at Oregon and Towson State. "I noticed she had really good stamina."

Nearly a decade later, Kacie Remeto, 15, is still running. Only these days, the McDonogh sophomore is usually out in front.

Remeto, who dreams of one day becoming a television news journalist -- a la Katie Couric -- is quickly making headlines of her own as one of the premier distance runners not only in the area, but also the nation.

Remeto, the two-time defending Association of Independent Schools cross country champion, is a heavy favorite to defend her Catholic League titles in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters later this spring.

This past winter, she put her name among the country's elite, winning the 1,600 at January's Virginia Tech Super 8 meet in 5 minutes, 6.4 seconds -- her personal best and the 10th-fastest time in the United States last indoor season, according to DyeStat.

It was a race to remember for Remeto, who was sitting in third with just over a lap to go before going into an all-out sprint to blow by the two front-runners.

"She was able to maintain contact [with the leaders], and then when that bell went off, she was able to shift gears and immediately open up a 10-yard gap," said McDonogh coach Jeff Sanborn. "It was certainly a breakthrough race."

Success has agreed with Remeto, who has already begun receiving letters from colleges, including Harvard, Brown and Dickinson.

She said her drive to be the best constantly pushes her to new levels.

"It's kind of weird, but I always know that there's someone better than me and that I can try to work to get to them," said Remeto, who also ran a personal-best 11: 10.89 in the 3,200 at the Virginia Tech meet for the country's 20th-best time in that event. "I know that when I don't feel like training, they're training. I have to think of new ways to push myself."

She's been pushing herself for years, according to her mother, Sandy.

"We would take our kids over to the track when they were little and say, `Get ready. Get set. Go,' " said Sandy Remeto. "Kacie just had that quick reflex where she could get out real fast, and our son would say, `She cheats, she cheats.' "

As a fifth-grader, she traveled with her parents from Fallston to compete in a series of elementary-school cross country races in Baltimore County. She still laughs when recalling her first race in fifth grade.

"I was running through the woods, and I thought I was going the wrong way," she said. "They told me to follow the white line on the ground, but there was nobody around. I was just following the line and I didn't know where I was. Then, all of the sudden, the race director came by on his bike and said, `Good job. Just keep following the white line.' It was a big sigh of relief."

She joined the Harford County Track Club at age 12. By the time she finished junior high, she was progressing so fast in the sport that she decided to give up playing soccer, basketball, lacrosse and softball so she could give track her undivided attention.

"We know there have been a number of runners who have peaked at an early age, but I don't think that will happen in her case," said Sanborn. "She absolutely loves her sport, and at the same time, her physical stature will allow her to train at that next level."

Sanborn said Remeto is capable of running the 1,600 in under 5 minutes this spring and under 4: 50 by the time she leaves high school, which would put her among the top distance runners her age.

Physically, Remeto's long, natural stride combines with her speed to make her a natural miler. With a lean, 5-foot-9 frame, Remeto uses her long legs to seemingly glide over the track.

Emotionally, she's a natural, as well.

"This is what she loves to do," said Sanborn. "When we tell her not to run because it's in between seasons or it's time to take some time off, she just doesn't want to do that. She's very determined."

Although just getting over a bout with the flu, she will have several more chances to improve on her times in the coming weeks, including Thursday at the Knights Invitational at North County. She will also be at the Penn Relays on April 23.

For now, Remeto continues to train, running an average of 35 miles a week. Though she often finds herself way out in front of the pack, she said she's hesitant to look over her shoulder, like her dad did so many years before.

Said Remeto: "I can usually just hear the competition behind me."

Pub Date: 4/05/99

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