Central Catholic grad making strides at UTWritten by Mike Bauman | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of the greatest things in life happen when you take a chance. For Toledo sophomore distance runner Emma Kertesz, running was never a problem. A soccer player while attending high school at Central Catholic, however, Kertesz never imagined running competitively at the college level.
“I always enjoyed the running parts of sports,” Kertesz said in a phone interview with Toledo Free Press. “I didn’t mind doing running as a punishment and I was like, ‘OK. Maybe I can just do this on the side.’”
Kertesz would go out and run a few times a week and started to like it so much that she joined the track team at CCHS. Irish women’s track & field coach Dave Carpenter then told her she should give cross country a shot her senior year, and Kertesz went on to earn City League MVP and became the Northwest District Champion in cross country that season.
“I really like running, so I just thought, ‘Sure. I’ll give it a try,’ and it ended up going really well, so I would definitely say he was a big influence on just convincing me to give it a shot my senior year of high school,” Kertesz said.
While Central Catholic was in the process of updating the school’s football field during Kertesz’s junior year for what is now the current Gallagher Stadium, the track team would practice on the Toledo campus, where UT track and field/cross country coach Kevin Hadsell first saw Kertesz run.
“A couple of times I’d be walking out and I could see her at the track, and I ended up asking her coach about her, who’s a friend of mine,” Hadsell said in a phone interview. “The way she ran and how tough she seemed to be was kind of impressive to me for somebody that didn’t have a lot of experience.”
Unfortunately, that success came with some speed bumps once Kertesz decided to run for Hadsell at Toledo. In addition to battling anemia, Kertesz also had her knee scoped in January of her freshman year with the Rockets after an MRI revealed that she had synovial tissue, which resulted in her getting redshirted for both indoor and outdoor competition.
“It was really kind of an adjustment period for her that lasted all of her freshman year and then pretty much at least half of her sophomore year where not having a lot of experience in the sport was kind of hurting her,” Hadsell said. “She didn’t really realize how hard you have to work at this level in order to be good, and so she wasn’t necessarily making the best decisions.”
After hurting her heel last year following a steeplechase run in the outdoor season, Kertesz refocused and has had perhaps her best success as a runner to date. She was named 2010 Second-Team All-MAC and All-Region in cross country, then captured Second-Team All-MAC honors at the MAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet at Northern Illinois on May 14. Weather forced Kertesz to compete in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, 1,500-meter race and 5,000-meter race all in the same day at the outdoor championships, but she still placed in the top five in each event to help Toledo come in sixth place for the school’s best finish since 2003.
“I’ve been here for 13 years, so I’ve been to 13 MAC Championships,” Hadsell said. “Her being able to do all those events in the one day and to do them as well as she did, that was one of the top I’d say three or four best performances that actually I’ve ever seen at the MAC meet.”
For her efforts, Kertesz earned the No. 40 seed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the East Preliminary Rounds of the 2011 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Preliminary Championship Competition and will compete on May 27 at Indiana University. Based on times recorded throughout the season, the top 48 athletes for each event in both the East and West regions were selected for the preliminary rounds. Kertesz will need to crack the top 12 in order to compete in the semifinal at the NCAA Championships, which will be held at Drake University from June 8-11.
On the biggest stage of her career thus far, Kertesz is happy she chose to compete for Hadsell at UT.
“Coach Hadsell has what I think is a [great] approach to workouts,” Kertesz said. “He’s all about hard work, but at the same time having fun. He’s very laidback, and I really like that style of coaching.”
It certainly shows.