Warner’s Karlee Hart – Character Counts presented by Cross

Written by Nick Hampton

When I was a young athlete the thing I always hated was running. Whether it was wind sprints or laps around the outfield, running was BORING.

But you certainly don’t get that kind of response when you ask Karlee Hart why she likes to run track and cross-country for the Warner Eagles.

“Sometimes I like to run just to clear my head. But I really love the competition with other teams and even among my team mates because I always want to have the best time in any running event on the team,” said the sophomore distance runner who is also on the school Leadership Team.

Last spring as a freshman, Hart was on Warner’s 800-meter relay team that finished fourth in the state. She’s also on the 3200-meter and mile relay teams, runs cross-country in the fall and is part of the Warner cheer squad, which was the state runner-up in competition last year.

As she talks about her many activities, she draws a connection between her athletics and being successful in the classroom where she sports a 3.6 grade point average.

“My track and cross-country conditioning really help me in cheer because I’m the flyer (which means she gets tossed in the air a lot) and to do that well you have to have a strong core in running to build up momentum. When I’m running and I’m behind, I have the mindset of just passing the next girl and the next one and so on. And taking tests for me is kind of like that. You have to finish but you have to do well and so I know I have to study and train my brain just like I train my body for athletics in order to do that.”

This year there’s a new element for Karlee in her running as her dad, John, is the new cross-country coach at Warner.

“My dad is different when he’s coaching me than he is at home,” said Hart. “We do talk track at home but we also do a lot of normal father-daughter stuff too. I think I’ll like having him as a coach.”

For dad, there were a few misgivings about being Karlee’s coach at first but with the knowledge of parenting three daughters and the help of wife Jennifer, things are going smoothly.

“I was a little concerned about the family dynamic and how Karlee would respond but the transition has been really smooth,” said John. “And my wife kind of keeps us all on an even keel. I think one of the challenges this year for Karlee will be maintaining her level of commitment having tasted some success last year as a freshman.”

With cross country season here, Karlee is upbeat about maintaining the rich tradition of the sport at Warner.

“We lost some folks from last year but one of our best runners, Madeline Ellis who was hurt last year, is back and I think that will help us a lot.”

So when the state cross country championships are decided this fall in Shawnee, look for Karlee, her sister Katie, Madeline and the Eagles team to be among the top competitors.