The Keller cross country team is likely to look toward a particular person to help get it to the state meet this season.
Carter Persyn, who has been at the state meet already, is hoping to bring more teammates with him to the regional and final meet this year.
Now that the season is underway, Persyn and his Indians teammates are hoping to put the high-mileage summer into practical use.
Persyn said he is logging 60-70 miles each week, a little more than what he recorded last year. And it was last year that he qualified for the state UIL Class 6A cross country meet as a junior and finished 16th overall.
Although the Indians finished fourth as a team at the district meet, Persyn had finished high enough to advance as an individual runner.
Also running the 1600m and 3200m events in the spring’s track season, Persyn qualified for the regional meet in both events after capturing first place at the area meet. After last season’s cross country season ended in November, Persyn was able to compete in the Nike South Regional races and finished 19th.
The most recent event this year, the Marcus Invitational, was a bit of a struggle for Persyn and Keller. Persyn finished 10th as the highest-finishing Indians runner, while the team was ninth.
Persyn was about six seconds off his personal best of 15:52.
“It was a little tough to start the season [like that],” Persyn said. “But I know what I’ve got to do and what I have to do to get to where I want to be. I can’t be stressing too much right now.”
Not only does Persyn know what it’s like to run at the meet, but he recalls being a part of the Keller team which ran at Round Rock – the location of the state meet – when Keller qualified in his sophomore year.
Many of those mentors to Persyn include graduated Indians Austin Dalquist, Jake McConnell, Derrick Gutierrez, Lawson Velcher and Connor Hughes, who Persyn said he keeps in contact with. They also tend to gather for runs together when the Keller alums are back in town.
“There’s no doubt it’s been a learning experience,” Persyn said of his high-school career. “Having the older guys around was huge. Now, I’m a mentor and they look up to me and ask me questions,” he said.
What Persyn learned from his elder colleagues, he’s now passing down to the younger runners. He said just helping them relax and feel welcome on the team is key.
“I tell them, ‘You’re going to do fine. It’s just running.’”
Keller has several freshmen demonstrating potential in addition to returning juniors. Hopes are to have the team advance beyond district at least.
“It’s a totally different experience going to state as a team and an individual,” Persyn said. “On a team, if you don’t race your absolute best, someone else may have the race of their life.
“When you’re on your own, you just have to get it done,” he said.
One of the elements which no one can teach Persyn is his innate talent to finish a race. He has been noted for his finishing kick which is a product of his speed work, in part.
“The summer is to get in as many miles as you can which helps with endurance,” Persyn said. “You start working in speed workouts through the season.”
Over the course of his senior campaign, Persyn said his goals are to get his time down into the 15:30s for the cross country 5K and in the spring, get his mile time to sub-4:10 and his two-mile down to a sub-9:10.