Faces: Kayla Carlson

By Beacon Staff

Kayla Carlson, 16, has a certificate that reads “Queen of the Mountain.”

“My hardest run was this summer when I went to Clearwater Cross Country camp in Washington,” said Carlson, a junior on the Bigfork High School cross country team.

The race ascended for 2 miles straight up a ski slope. The winners were honored with the title of King and Queen of the Mountain,” … and I won,” said Carlson.

It was only two seasons earlier when Carlson, who had never run before, entered her first race, an 800-meter run while on Bigfork’s track team.

Her experience was “no more than the mile I had to run for gym class,” said Carlson.

“The bunch of girls started out ahead very fast. Then they were getting closer,” she said. “I didn’t expect to win my first race.”

Carlson’s competitiveness and personal drive helped propel her to 13th place at state last year, her first season on the cross country team.

“Once I got it into my head that I could win races,” she said, “I didn’t want to stop winning.”

Carlson divides her time with cheerleading, track, speech and debate and select choir. But it is cross country where she said she has learned the most about herself.

“It’s whether or not you can push through the pain,” she said. “The nice thing about the pain is that it’s temporary. Do it now or regret it later.”