By Joe Scalzo
Earlier in the season, Canfield High’s Emma Lunne’s body wasn’t cooperating.
Saturday, she hopes her mind does.
After battling through tendinitis in her Achilles tendon in mid-September, Lunne recovered enough to win last week’s Division I race at the district cross country meet at Malone University.
She’s aiming for a top-five finish at this weekend’s regional meet.
“Hopefully I can go out in the top five and stay there and not back down,” Lunne said. “I just need to keep my head into it.”
When asked if it’s ever a good thing that she’s such a mental runner, she chuckled and said, “No, it’s always a bad thing.”
Lunne has been one of the area’s best runners since her freshman year, when she finished seventh at the Suburban League championships to lead the Cardinals to the team title.
Her father, Dr. Denis Lunne, was a standout runner at Cincinnati St. Xavier, finishing runner-up at the 1969 state meet before going on to run at Penn where he was a four-minute miler, Emma said.
“She’s got great bloodlines,” Canfield coach Doug Weitzman said. “And she’s got a great work ethic. She’ll do whatever you ask her to do.”
Lunne, Canfield’s only regional qualifier, works closely with assistant coach Mike Yankey, who finished seventh in the state in 2000 to help lead Girard to the Division II title. Because she’s so much faster than her teammates, she often runs with Canfield’s boys or with former Cardinal Jon Hutnyan, who now runs at YSU.
“Because she’s so good, we’ve had to individualize a lot of things with her,” Weitzman said.
After failing to get out of the district her first two seasons and finishing 46th at last year’s regional (the top 16 advance to the state meet), Lunne entered this season with a solid training base and high expectations. The tendinitis limited her at some meets — “The more races I run, the more tired my body gets, so my coach had me run hard in a select few,” she said — but she still managed to win the Suburban League title (beating out 232 other girls) and the All-American Conference meet.
Then, last weekend, she tied Nicole Stevens’ school record by running a 19:07.57 to win the district title by nine seconds.
Now she’s on pace to become Canfield’s first state qualifier since Kristen Piersante in 2000.
“I’m nervous,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure, so hopefully it turns out the way everyone wants it to turn out, and hopefully it turns out the way I want.”