Wildcat of the Week: Carson Sturdy


Carson Sturdy runs at the Kansas State Cross Country Championships on Oct. 31 in Augusta.

Brady Huggins, Staff Reporter

Carson Sturdy concluded his senior cross country season on Saturday, Oct. 16, with a fifth place finish at the Kansas State Cross Country Championships in Augusta. A top-five finish at the State meet is an accomplishment few De Soto High School distance runners have made, but for Sturdy, it was a disappointment. 

“My goal was to win a State title,” Sturdy said. “I got out fast, was in a great position at 1K [1,000 meters] and should’ve made a move there. I held back a little too much from the leader.” 

For Sturdy, it had been a long road to that Saturday morning, a training cycle circling back to November of last year. With over 11 months of training coming down to one championship race, Sturdy’s work ethic and motivation are key attributes to his success. 

“I love enduring the pain of the sport,” Sturdy said. 

Assistant cross country coach Ben Stamey spoke to Sturdy’s relentless drive and pursuit of improvement. 

“He always wants to do extra,” Stamey said. “Whatever the coaches assigned for a workout, he always asked to do more. Seeing the passion and pain on his face proves to me he was never holding back.” 

Stamey also mentioned Sturdy’s motivation.

“He has a dedication to his sport and improving. There’s been a passion and desire to improve, along with general hard work,” Stamey said. 

Additionally, junior Reed Richards complimented Sturdy’s work ethic. 

“It’s always a grind for him, he never slacks off,”  Richards said. “He works really, really hard.” 

For cross country runners, off-season training is crucial to success during races,  so Sturdy put a large emphasis on training this past year, especially during the summer.

“I ran around 70 miles a week,” Sturdy said. “Harder workout on Monday, recovery runs on Tuesday and Thursday, lighter workout on Wednesday and long runs on Saturday.” 

Being the team’s unquestioned top runner, Sturdy took on an important leadership role this season. Stamey was impressed with Sturdy’s growth as a leader during his senior season.

“He’s grown a lot. He’s improved his leadership and taken responsibility as the team’s best runner,” Stamey said. “I’m just as pleased with his maturity and leadership as his State placement.” 

Senior Henry Rokusek echoed Stamey’s statements regarding Sturdy’s leadership role. 

“He led the team by motivating the guys during the summer, especially when we didn’t have coaches,” Rokusek said. 

Richards was also impressed with Sturdy’s leadership.

“Since it’s his senior year, seniors should step up, and he did just that,” Richards said. “He’s good at communicating to all the team members and constantly reaches out to the varsity runners to make sure they’re doing the right things.” 

Not only does Sturdy motivate and keep team members accountable, but he also serves as a perfect example for younger athletes.

“He’s a great role model for younger runners,” Richards said. “He eats right, sleeps right and works hard. He’s the leader every cross country team should have.” 

As a clearly established leader, Sturdy has high standards for his teammates and as an individual. Expectations for his team and himself were sky high heading into the fall season.

“I wanted to get on the podium as a team and win an individual State title,” Sturdy said. 

Rokusek mentioned Sturdy’s emphasis on setting and achieving goals. 

“We always talk about our goals and he makes sure we’re in line for what’s ahead,” Rokusek said.

Despite Sturdy’s leadership and the team’s hard work this off-season, a shocking fourth place finish at the Regional championships knocked De Soto out of contention for a trip to the State Championship and a chance to finish top three as a team.

“I was devastated for my teammates,” Sturdy said. 

Looking back, Sturdy reflected on his past season’s performances. 

“I performed very mediocre,” Sturdy said. “I started the year off strong and battled an injury mid-season, which affected late season performances.”

As for competing at the next level, Sturdy expects to be running competitively far past high school. 

“I plan to run in college,” Sturdy said, but he is currently undecided as to where. 

Stamey also expects Sturdy to compete at the college level.

“I expect him to run at the next level. He deserves to run in college,” Stamey said. 

But for Sturdy, track season is his main focus as of now. And he has no shortage of motivation. 

“I don’t let failure define me,” Sturdy said. “I use it as fuel, and I’m due for a breakout track season. Failure that occurred will make the success story that much sweeter.” 

Stamey believes Sturdy’s unrelenting commitment to success and improvement is emblematic of an elite runner and athlete. 

“He’s improved his State placement every year,” Stamey said. “I think he’s one of the best, if not the best distance runner in De Soto history.”