Canyon Crest Academy senior Carlie Dorostkar, the top cross country runner in California during the 2019 fall season, will attend UCLA in the fall. (Credit: Patrick Corsinita)
SAN DIEGO -- While some high school track and field competitors struggle to find a way to stay in shape with schools and businesses -- including fitness centers -- closed, some have been able to at least maintain.
Count UCLA-bound Carlie Dorostkar of San Diego's Canyon Crest High among those.
Oh, she takes road runs, often with Joel Gomez, a Para-Olympian who offers plenty of competition, which allows distance runners like herself an edge versus, say, shot putters, pole vaulters or hurdlers, to name a few.
They aren't allowed on the track, and neither is she. Sort of.
"I've been able to sneak on to the track a few times," said Dorostkar, adding with a laugh, "I'm skinny enough to fit through the gates. At the most there was myself and one other person. No one tried to chase me off. "
That tells you how desperate she and other athletes are to stay in shape so if, or when, they get the green light they can be ready to roll.
Her school has named mid-April as the return-to-school date if the coronavirus wanes enough to safely reopen the doors.
Dorostkar, 17, says she's ready right now.
Asked what her goal was for the 3,200-meter run, she replied quickly "10:10."
Asked what she could run if there was a meet like, say the now cancelled Arcadia Invitational with many of the nation's best runners, she repeated "10.10."
She explained: "I figure that's what I can run in a really fast race like the state championships."
This is certainly not the same Carlie Dorostkar who finished sixth in the 3200 at Clovis a year ago with a PR of 10:26.15.
The Ravens senior became the state's best cross country runner, earning MileSplitCA's Female Runner of the Year, after winning the state Division I championship in 16:45.4 before placing sixth in the Nike Nationals -- the highest finisher from California.
Watch Highlights of the State Division I Girls XC Championships
Along the way she gained more than just faster times and recognition.
"I'm more confident this year," said Dorostkar, she with the 4.36 GPA. "I know what I want and what I need to work on. It was all a learning experience last year, I really didn't know. I could feel the difference in cross country and expect it to be the same in track. That's why I was hoping to run more relays-4x1600 and distance medley-but I guess that's not possible."
Even if the school reopens in mid-April, there would need to be a two-week conditioning period, which might allow an invitational before league championships, section prelims and then finals before the state meet in Clovis May 29-30.
That's a condensed season she'd welcome since, if she were to run that 10:10, it would give her the section record currently held by La Costa Canyon's Kristen Fahy at 10:11.38 set at last year's state meet.
"I'm not saying I expect to win state-there are so many other really good runners who could win-but I'd like to improve on my finish last year and run 10:10," she said.
Either way, she has UCLA.
Dorostkar took more time than most, checking out schools from east to west before a visit to Westwood helped her make up her mind.
"I wanted to go to a school with a good Biology department," said Dorostkar, who received a full-ride scholarship and will major in Human Biology-coincidentally studying things like Covid-19.
"When I visited I liked the coaches and my teammates-it felt like home. I know UCLA has big classes but I'm used to that. I'm excited but I'd still rather run track this spring."