As a runner, Kari Hardt has always had her sights set on bigger things. While dominating girls distance running in Arizona for the last two years, Hardt has sought out races of national significance in order to see where she stacks up on that level.
Now, Hardt knows from where she will take on the next level — Arizona State University.
This week, Hardt gave her verbal commitment to attend ASU in the fall, joining older sister Whitney and a cross country program that has steadily climbed up the NCAA ranks. Currently, the ASU women are ranked sixth in the country.
"It just felt right," said Hardt, the Tribune’s girls cross country runner of the year in 2004. "Their team is really good and you can’t go wrong there."
For Hardt, the decision lightens her load as she prepares for the final stretch of the season.
"Now I can completely focus on my season, which is good," Hardt said. "I don’t have to worry about anything else."
Hardt’s focus this weekend is on the Mount SAC cross country invitational at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, Calif.
Hardt will run on Saturday in the event that features more than 16,000 high school runners in 92 races.
"There’s so many people and the course is tough; it’s the toughest course I’ve ever run," said Hardt, who placed third in the Division III girls race she competed in last year.
This year, Hardt will compete in the Division I-II individual sweepstakes race, pitting her against the top individual entries in the large school division.
COACH OF THE WEEK
Scooter Molander of Brophy Prep has been selected Arizona Cardinals high school football coach of the week.
Molander’s Broncos defeated previously unbeaten Horizon 34-13 last week. The Broncos (6-1) are tied for first place in the 5A Desert Valley Region with rival St. Mary’s.