Carlson the epitome of drive for Gophers

David McCoy

Minnesota men’s cross country coach Steve Plasencia said he is ready to wield his double-edged sword.

Plasencia uses the term to describe All-American runner Andrew Carlson.

“Andrew is a hard-training, driven individual who rides the line a lot of times between health and injury because he wants to train as hard as he can and get the most out of himself at the end of the season,” Plasencia said.

“Andrew pushes the envelope. His will to succeed is so strong, it’s kind of like a two-edged sword, because he is willing to work hard but sometimes he can go too far.”

Last weekend, a relatively healthy Carlson finished second at the Brigham Young Autumn Classic.

It was his first cross country race since a hernia injury that required surgery and sidelined him for the entire 2003 cross country season.

After the injury, Carlson trained vigorously to regain his top form. He ran 70 miles to 80 miles a week during track season this spring and 110 miles a week this summer in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

Although Carlson said that his hernia injury no longer has any effect on him, he’s had a nagging lung problem since the end of last spring’s track season.

But at least he can race.

“I didn’t feel the best (at the BYU Classic) but it was nice just to get out there again,” he said. “My lungs were real bad, and I don’t know why. But I’m getting over it now, so hopefully the rest of the season will be pretty good.”

He said he draws motivation from his mother, who has cancer. Put in this perspective, he said, his various injuries seem small.

“No pain or no lung problem is as bad as what she’s going through every day,” he said. “But she’s like the most positive person in the world, so you can’t feel too bad when you’re around her.”

With this type of motivation, he will try to duplicate his first two seasons with the Gophers.

Originally a transfer from Arizona, Carlson came to Minnesota for his sophomore year and won two 8k titles at the Big Ten Championships in two tries.

He said he’s glad he made the switch to Minnesota, which is closer to his home of Fargo, N.D.

“I can’t imagine having a better coach, I can’t imagine better teammates and friends and I wouldn’t want anything different,” Carlson said.

Teammate Josh DoBell said having Carlson back means a lot to the team, too.

“I’ve seen the crap he’s had to go through to get in as good of shape as he’s in now,” DoBell said. “It makes all the difference to have a guy like that in our group. And to the team it means everything.”

DoBell said he is glad to have Carlson back from a personal standpoint as well. And as the sun sets on both of their careers at Minnesota, he said he’s glad to share the experience with Carlson.

“He’s one of my best friends, and we’ve trained together a long time,” he said. “It makes all the difference to me to have him around for my last year running, so we can close this thing out here together.”