After battle with covid-19, Deer Lakes’ Carson McCoy has his eyes set on WPIAL gold

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Saturday, May 8, 2021 | 5:40 PM


Two years ago, Deer Lakes track and field coach Justin Mech took his core group of runners to a meet out in Altoona and came away impressed by a youngster who had joined his squad.

“I took this skinny little red-headed freshman, and he did awesome,” Mech said about current junior Carson McCoy. “You could see the potential.”

At the time, running wasn’t McCoy’s top interest, but by the end of the season, he was running against some of the top runners in the 800 meters at the WPIAL Class AA individual championships.

He finished fifth in 2 minutes, 2.21 seconds, 3 seconds behind former teammate and current mentor Josh Yourish. McCoy said his performance at the WPIAL championships was an inspiration to train harder.

“That really sparked my interest in it,” McCoy said. “Before that, I was into it, but it wasn’t my main priority. But after that, I realized that I had something going here, and I needed to work a little harder at it.”

Now, after a year off because of the coronavirus pandemic and with the WPIAL individual championships right around the corner, McCoy has reaffirmed his place among the best runners in all of Class AA.

At Deer Lakes’ WPIAL team semifinal meet earlier this week, McCoy took first in the 800 and 1,600. According to milesplit.com, his 1:54.13 in the 800 is the best time in WPIAL Class AA, and McCoy believes he still has room for improvement before the WPIAL championship May 19.

“I think that’s what it’s all about,” McCoy said. “It’s all about pushing yourself to see what you can really do.”

McCoy was coming off an indoor season in which he teamed with Riverside’s Colby Belczyk, Greensburg Salem’s Quinton Gaton, and Knoch’s Mike Formica to set the top high school 3,200-meter relay time in the country (7:50.60) at Youngstown State’s Open/High School Meet.

Their time, which surpassed the previous record by 6 seconds, also snapped the previous facility record.

McCoy put together a strong indoor season in preparation for his junior year, where he hoped to become one of the best runners in the WPIAL.

“This indoor season went really well. I mean I ran a 4:18 in the 1600 and then like a 1:56 in the 800, so I was really happy coming off the indoor season,” said McCoy, who took second in the 800 (1:57.95) at Friday’s Baldwin Invitational. “But right around the beginning of April, I actually got covid, and it kind of set me back a little.”

Covid sidelined him for a stretch, but shortly after his return, McCoy competed in the Butler Invitational and placed third in the 800 meters, which was less than a second behind the winner. He also placed fifth in the 1,600 with a time of 4:27.78.

Mech thought McCoy’s performance at the Butler Invitational was a sign of things to come.

“I remember talking to him afterward, and he said the only thing that really bugged him was his lungs,” Mech said. “So I’m thinking that that is finally starting to work its way out because he looked pretty strong, and he felt good yesterday (Tuesday).”

Heading into the WPIAL meet, McCoy has his sights set on two things, and both just happen to be gold.

“Obviously, the goal is just to go and get the 1,600- and 800-meter double,” McCoy said. “That’s the ultimate goal.”

Yourish, who has mentored McCoy and helped develop his training schedule for the indoor season while running at George Mason, came close to doing the same two years ago during his senior year. He won the 800 and finished 1 second behind Quaker Valley’s Daniel Ford in the 1,600 with a 4:27.80.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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