Daily News spotlight athletes: West Mifflin's Kevin Garbark, Elizabeth Forward's Jessica Cartia
School: West Mifflin
Claim to fame: Garbark won the 200-meter dash and placed second in the 100 meters Saturday at the Tri-State Track and Field Coaches Association meet at West Mifflin.
“Kevin does a lot of great things for our team,” coach Mike Mazzarese said. “He plays football too, but he really loves track. He ran the whole indoor track season and is just very dedicated to it. He has a great attitude and always works very hard.”
How do you prepare for a meet?
I just go out and make sure I warm up really well so I don't pull anything. I just try to stretch really well and try not to think about anything too much and go out there and run my race.
What do you enjoy more, football or track?
Football has a lot more pumped up environment, but I like track more because it's an individual sport. It's all on me as an individual runner.
Who has been the most challenging runner you've faced in your high school track career?
Definitely my own teammate, Jimmy Wheeler. Running every meet with him is a challenge. I like running with him because we challenge each other.
What are your goals for this season?
I haven't really had a set time for what I would like to run, but I would definitely like to run in the in nine- or 10-second range for the 100-meter and the low 22s in the 200.
What's your favorite movie?
I saw a movie called “The Express” a few years ago about Ernie Davis. That jumps out as one of my favorites. It's about how hard he had to work to become a starter at Syracuse when it was segregated. I really liked it.
School: Elizabeth Forward
Claim to fame: Cartia hit a home run and drove in two runs to help the Warriors to a 4-2 win over Yough last week. “She's a freshman just coming up from the middle school, and we've had her working on her technique behind the plate,” coach Harry Rutherford said. “She also has a strong bat and a very accurate arm as well. She doesn't run the pitchers yet, but she does know how to call a game. She has a great attitude and is a very good team player.”
What are your expectationsfor yourself this season?
I pretty much just want to help as much as I can. I want to be able to say I was a leader for the team and that I contributed.
Are there nerves because you're so young?
Yes, plenty of them. I was very nervous the first game, and I still get nervous. I was afraid I wasn't going to be accepted. I've found that I have been accepted and that I have my place on the team just like everyone else.
What do you enjoy most about catching?
I like being a team leader and being in control of the field. I also like being able to pick someone up and being in control of my own game.
Have you been able to develop a relationship with the pitchers?
Yes, I have a very strong relationship with our varsity pitcher. I've known her since I was little, so I've always had a relationship with her. So far this season, we've really bonded as pitcher and catcher. She knows when she's down. I'll pick her up and when I'm down I know she'll pick me up.
Do you have a role model?
I'd say Coach Rutherford is a great role model. Also, seeing our old catcher, Kristen Hawkins, lead makes me want to lead our team the same way she would have. Seeing her develop as a catcher makes me want to do the same.
— Robert Stinner