Carlson Showcases Dad’s Athleticism In A Different Sport

Jamestown senior Drew Carlson set the Martin Road Athletic Complex course record earlier this week with a time of 16:53.3. P-J photos by Matt Spielman

Ask anyone who played sports with Dusty Carlson back in the day, and I’m willing to bet the answer to how they felt about competing with or against him would be the same. Something along the lines of, “I wanted him on my team.”

The reason why is simple.

Dusty’s football and basketball teams were usually among the last ones standing more than 25 years ago and it was usually because the Southwestern Central School graduate played a big role in achieving that success.

Fast-forward a generation.

Dusty’s son, Drew, is now a senior at Jamestown High School. Unlike his dad, Drew is not gaining acclaim for success on the gridiron or on the hardwood. Rather, he’s taken the road less traveled and is making a name for himself as one of Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association’s top cross country runners.

“I tried all the basketball, baseball and soccer, and I liked it all, but it didn’t really click for me,” he said.

Running has become a different story.

Earlier this week Drew set a new course record of 16 minutes, 53.3 seconds on the Red Raiders’ 3.1-mile layout at the Martin Road Athletic Complex, breaking the previous mark set last year by Randolph’s Ronan McDonald.

“I actually was nervous,” said Drew, 17. “My knee was hurting. I was like, ‘Oh, no, I’m going to do bad, but whenever I get into a race all that stuff, all the injuries seem to leave and my competitive edge takes over.”

Drew began his cross country career at Southwestern where his mom, Kristy, used to be a principal in the district, but decided to transfer to Jamestown — the Carlson family lives on the city’s northside — before his freshman year.

“In seventh grade I started running a little bit on my own to keep in shape, and then my mom said, ‘Why don’t I text the coach about starting cross country?'”

Ironically, Drew didn’t even know the sport existed.

By the time he finished eighth grade, however, he claimed the CCAA middle school title after turning in an outstanding effort at the McQuaid Invitational in Rochester earlier in the season.

“Props to Dan Lewis (the Southwestern cross country coach) for bringing him along as a middle-school runner,” Jamestown coach Steve Sipior said. ” … Southwestern taught him he could be good at it and he just developed a love for it. … He had been the eighth-grade county champ, so I knew he was a special talent.”

Drew is finally understanding how special he is when the starter’s gun goes off.

“Honestly, I think as a freshman, a sophomore and even as a junior, Drew doubted himself,” Sipior said. ” … As an eighth-grader at Southwestern, he had all these top-notch runners to look up to and I don’t think he measured himself against those guys.”

Sipior believes Drew’s confidence got a big boost, though, during a meet against Southwestern and host Falconer/Cassadaga Valley last year at Breezewood Links.

“Falconer won that meet,” Sipior said, “but no Southwestern runners beat Drew, and I think that surprised him more than anybody. … I remember the conversation afterward. I told him, ‘You need to have confidence in yourself. Look who you beat today?’ It gave him so much confidence that he could make the state meet.”

Drew did ultimately make the trip to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at SUNY Plattsburgh. While there will be no state meet this year because of COVID-19, it’s clear he will continue to leave his mark on his coach and his teammates over the next few weeks, which he’s hopeful will include the CCAA meet and the Section VI championships.

“He’s been a great target for the other kids,” Sipior said. “This year we have a sizeable middle school team, and when he crosses the finish line and they see his time, it’s fun to listen to them, saying ‘Drew ran this? Drew ran that?'”

And, just like the comments his dad received a few decadesago, Drew is rewarded knowing that the “junior” Red Raiders are glad he’s on their team, too.

Like father, like son.


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