BORN TO RUN: Foard senior Karina Coulter finishes out prep cross country career strong as 3-time NCHSAA 2A All-State runner

Foard senior Karina Coulter competing during the 2020-21 Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference XC Championship on December 19, 2020. (O-N-E file photo by Brian Hendrix)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

We all have some sort of aspirations in life, but not everyone fights for it. If one does, it can open up the floodgates for possibilities.

The same is definitely true in the sports world. From the time an individual is young, there is a goal in mind for him or her to achieve.

Whether it be to crack that starting rotation, fill up the stat sheet with crazy numbers or even win some kind of championship. In every sport, there’s something to strive for.

In terms of cross country, beating one’s personal best finish is a goal every runner wants to accomplish.

Sometimes he or she wants it so badly out on the course, that other accolades follow.

This is the case for Fred T. Foard senior Karina Coulter. Coulter has honed her craft as a runner in cross country, as well as track & field, from the time she was a little kid.

“I started running in elementary school with the ‘Girls on the Run’ program and continued running through middle and in high school,” she said. “In elementary school, I looked up to my dad as he was running marathons. Once in high school, I became competitive and wanted to break records.

“I admire Katelyn Tuohy (a long distance runner from New York who won five Gatorade Player of the Year awards including being the first athlete to win both the Gatorade Female Cross Country POTY and Female Track & Field POTY)...She had a very successful high school career and broke many records on a high school championship level.”

Coulter has worked hard to get in a position to be a state champion cross country runner in her own right. Although that goal didn’t necessarily transpire, she improved by leaps and bounds from her freshman season at Foard.

It’s true that Coulter qualified for States all four years on the Tigers cross country team, but after earning 63rd place her first go-around (with a 21:16.98 mark in the 5K run), she dominated the next three trips en route to top-10 finishes during the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A State Cross Country Championships.

After earning a 10th place finish as a sophomore in 2018, she went on to have a career-high finish during her junior campaign in 2019 – obtaining a 19:17.31 mark for a sixth-place result, just shy of Carrboro’s Louise Lounes’ fifth-place standing (19:16.11).

Although she took a dip back into 10th place during the 2020-21 2A State Championships with a 20:02.85 in the 5K on Jan. 22, she still managed to earn that final All-State spot. Because of her success during the State Championships at Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville, NC, Coulter was crowned a 3-time NCHSAA All-State runner.

In addition to All-State, Coulter was named the Northwestern Foothills 2A Conference Girls Runner of the Year in 2019, while also being named an All-Conference cross country athlete all four years. She was also named to the 2019 All-West Girls Cross Country team.

“Receiving awards and achieving accomplishments has pushed and kept me motivated as a runner,” she said. “I have grown as a runner and a person learning about strong work ethic and time management. I’ve learned about following through on commitments, as well as encouraging and helping others on my team and in life.

“I have learned that I have self-discipline and a drive to work hard. Having these qualities makes me a great runner in practice, and person in school and other activities. Over time, I have strengthened these qualities through running. I’ve learned how to push through bad days when I wasn’t feeling well, or wasn’t feeling like running. This bleeds over to life, like when I do not feel like doing something or going somewhere but I have to, so I just push through and get it done.”

As far as some of her favorite memories from her cross country career, Coulter said that getting to know and get close with her teammates was a great experience.

“We all worked together, encouraged each other and shared many laughs,” she said. “The best part was the team huddles before the meet and being the loudest to break it down.”

Now that this chapter is over, she said that she is focused on preparing for the upcoming track & field season as last season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coulter also said that following high school, she hopes to pursue cross country and track at the collegiate level. However, she has not decided where she will continue her career just yet.