By Kyle Daubs

After finishing towards the back of the pack at last fall’s IHSA sectionals, Luca Carcasi feels he has something to prove. 

Cross country races were run differently last year. The race was split into waves. Being Charleston’s No. 1 runner, Carcasi ran in the fast heat at the IHSA Regional, but he finished near the back of the wave, 18th overall. 

Despite qualifying for the sectional, Carcasi wasn’t happy with that finish, nor his 70th overall placing at the next level. With one year left to make state, Carcasi says last season’s results have motivated him. 

“I want to break 16 minutes,” said Carcasi. “That’s the big goal for this year. I want to be competitive at the sectional. Last year, with the way the postseason worked, I was put in the fast heat and I was near the end. I want to be near the front fighting for something.”

Carcasi has steadily improved since his freshman year when he broke 20 minutes for the three-mile runs. Carcasi then broke 18 minutes his sophomore season. He ran a personal best 17:03.5 at last fall’s Taylorville Regional. 

Carcasi believes he can shed at least another minute off his time this senior thanks to a challenging summer training program. 

“I’ve been doing two-a-days,” said Carcasi. “I run in the morning with the team and then work my speed and agility with Coach Oakley. I’ve been running six to seven days with multiple runs on some days. The goal is to get to 55 miles a week by the end of the summer. Based on the times at practice, I think a 5:20-mile pace is something that I can do.”

Carcasi also has hopes of making All-Apollo. Last year, he placed 16th overall.

Charleston has eight athletes returning, so far, who plan to run a 24-hour marathon later this month when each runner will rotate with teammates to go one mile for 24 hours.  

Perhaps more than anything, breathing unencumbered during races excites Carcasi the most.

“I’m very excited because just having normal warmups without masks will take a lot of the stress away,” said Carcasi.