Patience pays off in PIAA gold for Deer Lakes runner Carson McCoy

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Friday, May 28, 2021 | 8:35 PM


SHIPPENSBURG — In hindsight, Carson McCoy decided he probably made his move too early at the WPIAL championship, ultimately finishing second.

Given a do-over at the state meet, the Deer Lakes junior took a more patient approach to the 1,600 meters. McCoy ran with a crowd for much of the race and didn’t take the lead until there were about 80 meters left, but that late surge earned him a gold medal Friday at the PIAA Class AA track and field championships.

McCoy finished in 4 minutes, 16.48 seconds, a half-second ahead of Schuylkill Valley’s Luke Seymore at Shippensburg’s Seth Grove Stadium. His winning time was more than 2 seconds better than his WPIAL race from last week.

“I wasn’t going to take the lead early on,” McCoy said. “I planned to stick in the pack and wait until whenever I felt was time to make a move, and it paid off.”

McCoy was seeded second behind WPIAL champion Gabe McConville of Waynesburg. But as a first-timer at the state meet, McCoy didn’t want his hopes to get too high.

“I definitely knew I had a shot,” said McCoy, who battled through painful blisters on his feet from the WPIAL race. “My goal was just to get top three on the podium. I didn’t expect the first (spot), but I knew it was a possibility if I really battled in there.”

McCoy was one of only three WPIAL boys to win an individual event Friday. North Catholic’s Trevor Paschall won the 200, and Riverside’s Cody Melczyk was the 800 champion.

However, at one point in his race, McCoy worried everyone in his heat was running too slowly to win. The lead pack reached the midway point around the 2:16 mark.

“I started getting worried that someone from the slow heat would end up taking it,” he said.

The 26-person field was divided into two races.

Nobody in his heat started fast, so the runners were bunched together for a physical race. But with about 800 meters left, Grove City’s Gabe Nichols elected to push the pace.

“Then it just picked up from there,” McCoy said. “I just hung on and made my move at the last straightaway.”

With about 400 meters to go, McCoy counted four or five runners ahead of him.

“I was hurting a little bit,” he said, “but I focused on my breathing and tried to relax everything. I just hung on there, let them pull me around and made my move.”

He said he used the final turn as a slingshot that propelled him toward and across the finish line.

“I was pretty happy,” McCoy said of his celebration. “I tried to control it a little. I didn’t want to say something and get me disqualified, so I just walked off.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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