Prep Cross Country: Lincoln's Carlson making the most of what might be his final season
Brian Carlson of Lincoln County congratulates fellow runners following the boys race Saturday at the E.G. Plummer Invitational. Carlson, who won the race, said he tries to make a habit of congratulating fellow runners even when he doesn¿t win. (Mike Marsee / September 12, 2012)
Carlson had finished ahead of every one of them, but he was in no hurry to go cool down. Instead, the Lincoln County sophomore stood alongside the chute, extending his hand to each runner who passed by.
He didn’t do it because he had won the race or because he thought someone was watching. He did it because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.
“I think it’s a really good thing,” Carlson said. “I think it’s sportsmanlike to congratulate people. It’s not (only) when I get first, though. I try to do that as much as I can, just because I think that’s a good thing to do.”
Carlson is trying to do as much as he can during this cross country season, because he has come to realize it might be his last, even though he is just getting into his second year of high school.
He plans to apply in the coming days for admission to Western Kentucky University’s Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, a two-year residential high school for students interested in careers in math, science and related fields.
“This could actually be my last year of running track and cross country, even though I’m only a sophomore,” he said. “If I go there, I’m not sure they’d let me be on a sports team, so I’m just trying to end this year as best I can.”
So far so good. Carlson cruised to victory in the Plummer, running the challenging 3.1-mile course at Danville’s Admiral Stadium in 16 minutes, 55 seconds to win the race by 32 seconds.
Carlson’s coach, Louis Bailey, told him that was significant runners usually cover the Danville course about a minute slower than most other courses, but he was only 12 seconds off his time a week earlier in St. Xavier’s Tiger Run, his first meet of the season.
His early-season performances come on the heels of a summer in which he put in more mileage than ever before.
“This summer was probably the most I’ve done in terms of any summer. I’ve never really ran that much in the summer until now,” said Carlson, who will run in the Boyle County Invitational on Thursday at Millennium Park.
“I started to get more focused and realized I’m getting nearer and nearer to the end of my high school career,” he said.
Carlson is also building on a good freshman season in which he finished third in his Class AAA boys regional and 59th in the state. In track, he placed seventh in the Class AAA boys 1,600-meter run, and he was first in the 3,200 and second in the 1,600 at Lincoln’s regional meet.
His goal is to compete in regional and national races in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships later this fall, and if he can get his time below 16 minutes before this season ends, he hopes to enter the seeded race at the national meet in San Diego.
But Carlson’s goals go well beyond cross country. He took the ACT as a freshman and scored a 32, and he plans to retake the test this year in hopes of getting an even higher score. And his application to the Gatton academy is the first major step toward his goal of becoming an aerospace engineer, perhaps for a major aeronautics company such as Lockheed International.
“I love science a lot more, but math is something I’m really good at. It just clicks really quickly,” he said. “I’m pretty sure my chances of getting accepted are really high.”
For as long as he is at Lincoln, however, he’ll keep running. And then he’ll be waiting at the finish line for whoever comes in behind him, just as other runners once waited for him.
“I really liked it whenever people did that, so I guess it’s good to share,” he said.