Katie Locker calls it her quarantine runner’s club.
Elizabethtown’s senior distance specialist joins teammates Madeline Quinn and Sierra Kapcsos for morning runs. Practicing social distancing, the Bears’ trio does daily speed work and long-distance runs, covering anywhere from five to seven miles around E-town.
“There’s a path near my house that goes all the way to Lebanon,” Locker said. “We’ll run there. And there are hills at the high school where we can run loops and train.”
Like everyone else around the state, Locker, Quinn, a junior, and Kapcsos, a sophomore, have been relegated to home workouts and social-distancing outdoor running this spring, after Gov. Tom Wolf canceled the remainder of the school year, and the PIAA called off the entire spring sports season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s even more of a crusher for Locker, who will miss her senior track season in a Bears’ uniform.
“I kind of had it in the back of my mind that the season might get canceled,” Locker said. “But when I heard it officially, it still hit me really hard. It’s sad because I’m a senior, and I lost my last season in high school.”
Locker was certainly primed for big things on the track this spring. Last year she won L-L League gold in the 800 (2:15.46) and in the 1,600 — setting a new league record with a 4:59.98 — and she went on to finish third in the district finals and fifth in the PIAA finals in the 800.
She also teamed with Quinn, Kapcsos and Cat Shontz — who is now at Temple — to help E-town win league and district gold in the 4x800 relay. Locker finished fifth in the 800 in the state indoor finals at Penn State this past winter.
That was the last time she was able to cut it loose in a meet.
“This whole thing is devastating for a lot of people,” Locker said, “but I’m still excited because at least I’ll get to continue running in college. I’m looking forward to that.”
Locker has parlayed her long-distance running success into a scholarship from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The Hawks compete in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, and Locker will run cross country and participate in track for the Division I program.
She ran cross country all four years for E-town, and earned a state medal in her sophomore season. Locker was the L-L League cross country champ in her junior year in 2018, and she had runner-up finishes in her freshman, sophomore and senior seasons.
Locker hopes to major in health sciences to become a physician’s assistant. She also considered Temple and Messiah before selecting Monmouth, after the coaches there gave her a virtual online tour of the campus and athletic facilities.
For now, Locker will finish up her senior year at E-town with online classes. She’ll workout at home, mixing in some walks around the neighborhood. And she’ll gear up for college with her daily quarantine runner’s club workouts with Quinn and Kapcsos.
“I miss cheering on my teammates and congratulating everyone after a race,” Locker said. “I’m missing the competition and seeing my teammates and my friends from different schools at meets. And I miss that feeling of accomplishment you get after a race. Sadly, I won’t get those feelings again in high school.”