Polo cross country runner appreciates journey to state

Polo senior Carson Jones competed in the IHSA Boys Class 1A Cross Country State Meet that was held on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Jones: ‘I’m thankful to my teammates for always pushing me’

PEORIA — The IHSA Boys Class 1A Cross Country State Meet was held on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Detweiller Park in Peoria. The torrential downpour of rain on Friday and off and on Saturday brought its challenges with swamp-like conditions and cool temperatures to the more than 250 runners of the three-mile event. Carson Jones, a senior at Polo High School, qualified for the second year in a row and realized early on that the race would be a struggle.

“Like a lot of us out there the weather made it tough to get into my normal rhythm,” he explained. “I was a little disappointed with my time but glad to finish.”

Jones clocked in at 17:27, placing 144th.  The race featured just 12 runners breaking the 16-minute mark, compared to 48 last year. Sometimes, it’s not always the end result but the journey that got you there. Jones found himself going through some growing pains which made the early part of his campaign even more arduous.

“I knew that going into this season that the competition would be tougher which I feel kind of put some added pressure on me and as a result I started out slow,” he said. 

With the help and encouragement from his coach Tony Hardin, Jones was able to get back on track and crossed the finish line first at a meet in Oregon.

“Carson just needed to fine tune some things with his eating habits, proper rest and mental outlook,” said Hardin. “We talked about keeping it fun and not to worry about who you were running against. That seemed to strike a chord.”

Hardin went on to say that Jones now pushes the envelope a little harder and that drive is noticeable. 

“What separates him from the rest of the members of the team is his natural ability for endurance and to tolerate a higher threshold of pain while training and competing,” he added.

Jones is planning on running cross country and track at the collegiate level and is in discussions with a few colleges. As he looks back at his career he has no regrets.

“I’m thankful to my teammates for always pushing me to be my best,” he said. “To my coach who helped me to improve both as a runner and as a person. I did the best to my ability and am proud of what I accomplished.”