Slidell’s Dylan Carnes quickly confesses he has a love-and-hate relationship with the sport of running, especially cross country.
He’s not one to go out and pound pavement or look to put in a few extra miles. But he can’t wait to be at the starting line to hear the gun fire.
“It’s definitely a love-hate relationship,” Carnes said. “Sometimes I get tired of it in practice and the workouts. But when it comes time to run and compete, I’m set. I like competing.”
The Greyhound senior will be on the course 12:30 p.m. Saturday to compete in the Class A race at the Region II meet at Arlington’s Vandergriff Park. Carnes and his District 14-A champion teammates will be trying to defend their region crown and score a second straight trip to the state meet in Round Rock.
“I’m excited for Saturday,” Carnes said. “There’s more pressure on us than last year. Last year, it was going there and run the best you can. This year, there’s pressure to repeat.”
He added that the team wants a second shot to run on the Old Settlers course in Round Rock after last year’s 10th-place finish.
“We were disappointed in the way we ran last year at state,” Carnes said. “It was our first time at state, and we were all jumpy. I’m anxious to get back and see if we can do better.”
Carnes also has incentive entering this weekend as he looks to crack the top 10 at regionals. Last year, he was four seconds away from earning an individual bid to the state meet, taking 12th in 17:23.
“I was 12th last year, and I was really hoping to get in the top 10,” Carnes said. “I was two tenths of a second from 11th place. I’m going to push myself and try to get in the top 10.”
He is coming off winning the 14-A individual title for the first time last week, running a conservative 19:32 on the 5K course.
“That meant a lot,” Carnes said. “It was the first time for me to win. I’ve gotten second so many times. I’m glad I did it at district.”
Carnes’ season admittedly got off to a slow start. Slidell coach Todd McCormick said Carnes and the Greyhounds’ other top runner, Cord Hankins (who was second at district) battled illnesses throughout September.
“Both got sick, and that really slowed them early,” McCormick said. “They’ve gotten over it and are running much better.”
While experiencing success in cross country, Carnes gets more enjoyment from track, where he is a middle distance runner. He qualified for regionals in the 400 and 800.
“I like track, and that’s where I shine and have the most confidence,” Carnes said. “Last year, I hoped to get to state in track but fell short. I’m going to work hard and drop my times.”
He’s had to teach himself patience in cross country to keep from going out too fast and trying to run at his middle-distance pace.
“So many times I want to take off and leave people, but if I do ,I’ll be gassed,” Carnes said. “My best part of the race is the final 600. That’s when I focus on whoever is with me. The final 250, I let it go.”
That’s where the love of the sport outweighs the hate.