Record-setting runner set to go the distance
At the 2010 USA Track & Field Youth National Championships outside of Chicago one Roseville star streaked her way into history.
Fourteen-year-old Clare Carroll will walk on campus a freshman at Granite Bay High School the same year she captured a gold medal finish. In Chicago Carroll placed first in the 3,000-meter event complimented by a second-place result in the 1,500-meter.
As a testament to her rise as a shooting track and field star she broke the 3,000-meter tape more than 14 seconds ahead of some of the country’s best runners.
Carroll dissected the competition with a 4:41 finish and a new personal record in the 1,500.
When the second national event, the USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships, comes to Hughes Stadium July 27, Carroll will not be participating in the individual events, despite qualifying.
At the most visible youth athletic development program in the world Carroll won’t run as an individual, but instead in the 4 x 800-meter relay along with teammates from Roseville Express Track Club.
Carroll began running at Cavitt Junior High two years ago and has since been running with Roseville Express going on two years as well. Along with her individual coach, Leonard Sperandeo, an accomplished veteran runner in his own right, Carroll is deep in preparation for the Junior Olympics.
“My individual coach provides me times and workouts,” Carroll said. “I have worked out with him and some of his adult runners a few times as well. He is teaching me a lot and not just about how to strengthen my body, but also about race tactics. He also provides me a lot of great support.”
Sperandeo started as the head distance coach at California State Sacramento from 1987-1991. Including his wife Midori, who had qualified for four straight Olympic Trials in the marathon event, Sperandeo has coached elite and local elite runners to Olympic competition.
Most recently was his student and Granite Bay High alum Caitlyn Chock who in 2004 broke the national high school record in the 5K with a time of 15:52. It’s safe to say, talent like Carroll is his specialty.
“Having coached some of the best runners in the country, I know the mental makeup needed to be a champion on the highest levels,” Sperandeo said. “Clare certainly has the physical talent to compete with the best in high school. What will make her one of the standouts is her mental strength and lack of doubt in herself. If handled properly in high school (enough rest, not racing too much, etc.) I expect that Clare will join the list of best female distance runners the state has produced.”
Saturday was Carroll’s 14th birthday. So far in fourteen years her most prized achievements are her two medals from nationals this year, her two from last year’s Junior Olympics (second and fourth place finishes) and her cross country third place back in December.
“In the film Chariots of Fire a runner says about God: ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’ I feel that I've been given a gift and I enjoy developing it,” Carroll said.
She said that she discovered running via her playing soccer and hopped on at Cavitt. From there she took her junior high success to club meets with Roseville Express and onto Junior Olympic glory.
“I love the sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line,” Carroll said. “With goals, I try to take one thing at a time. I would like to run well in high school. I hope to get a scholarship to a college and get a terrific education. If I continue to progress, maybe someday I can run in the Olympics and there my goal would be to win the gold.”
Her mother, Kim Carroll, said there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep her daughter as busy as the level of her athletic endeavors.
“She dropped soccer this year and while she misses it, we think that having made that hard decision will make the next hard decision easier to handle,” Kim said. “She is learning how to approach a problem and we think running can help Clare learn to make tough decisions.”
Carroll has left soccer behind, but she still continues her ski racing efforts.
“At this point, I am not trying to rule out other sports,” Carroll said. “I am continuing Alpine ski racing and may add Nordic, or cross-country, ski racing this winter.”
As a student Carroll is also of the Olympic quality with straight A’s, a love of Math, reading and being with her friends.
A competitor at any sport and at any level Carroll has battled through a broken collarbone in one sport (soccer) to flip the switch and blast onto the USATF Junior Olympic scene second in the 3000 meter in just her first year in 2008.
Granite Bay could be getting early glimpses of an Olympian for the ages as she seeks to make her mark in the ultimate record book.
14 years old, born July 17, 1996 at Stanford Hospital
Family: One sister, Shannon; parents Kim and Paul; dog Bode; cat Beezie
Who is your favorite athlete? Steve Prefontaine
What is your best event: Track 3,000 meter
What is your least favorite event: 400 meter
What is your running goal? Olympic gold medal
If you could run against any athlete, past or present, who would it be? Jordan Hasay
Do you have any pre-event rituals? I go to dinner at Chili's and get a Cajun Chicken Pasta every night before a big race.
What is your favorite movie? The Proposal
What is your favorite quote? "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."--Steve Prefontaine