Before this cross country season, Daniel Barna typed a list of goals into his phone.
Win league. Win districts. Place top five in the state meet.
That final goal, Barna said, felt ambitious at the time.
But not only did Barna meet all those goals, he surpassed them.
The Columbia River senior placed second in the 2A state meet on Nov. 6 in Pasco.
Before that, Barna ran away with the district title and shaved nearly a minute off his junior season’s best time when he ran 15 minutes, 31 seconds at the Nike Hole in the Wall Invitational on Oct. 9. That ranks as the second-fastest 5,000-meter time in school history.
For his accomplishments, Barna is The Columbian’s All-Region boys cross country runner of the year.
Barna entered his senior year looking for a breakthrough season. After placing 22nd in the state meet as a sophomore, he knew he had high potential.
But the COVID-disrupted junior season, when there was no state meet and teams raced a shorter season in the early spring, didn’t produce any standout results.
Barna dialed in his training during the summer, ramping up his mileage to 60 per week.
Victories at two early-season invitationals gave Barna a boost of confidence. The first was the season-opening Run-a-Ree, which Barna won in 15:48 after running the first mile in 4:50.
“I went out really fast,” Barna said. “Doing that, I knew I was in good shape. That set the stage for the season.”
Barna followed that two weeks later with a win at the Nike Portland XC. With the temperature in the mid-80s, he clocked a then-personal best of 15:34 in the Division I Varsity race against runners from across the Northwest.
“That was quite the race,” Barna said. “I knew I was going to be in the front pack, but I didn’t think I was going to win.”
Barna was excited with how his season started, but he wasn’t content.
“It’s really hard for me, in terms of running, to satisfy myself,” Barna said. “I’ll run something and the initial excitement is there. But literally within hours I’m telling myself I need to run faster.”
Barna eagerly takes on difficult courses, whether in cross country or the classroom. He plans to study nuclear engineering in college.
Such an advanced field of study means that if Barna wants to run in college, it likely must be at a major Division-I university. That’s why the stakes were high for his senior cross country season and for track and field in the spring.
“I’m letting my academics guide me,” Barna said. “Hopefully the two align and I can compete at the D-I level. But it’s not a given that I’m going to run.”
But if this season’s state meet is his last cross country race, Barna is proud knowing he left nothing to spare. After finishing 18 seconds behind Selah’s Cooper Quigley, Barna could barely walk 15 minutes later.
“The thing I’m most proud of is that with almost all my races, I’ve gone 100 percent,” Barna said. “If you finish a race and go ‘oh, I could have kicked a little harder,’ that’s the worst feeling in the world. When I finish a race, I’m dead. I’ve got nothing left to give. That’s how you should finish a race.”
The rest of the team
Joseph Blanshan, La Center
Junior won the district title and placed 11th in the 1A state meet. Won eight of 11 races this season, breaking 16 minutes for 5K three times.
Branden Chou, Mountain View
Senior was 3A district champion with top-10 finishes in eight of 12 races this season. Personal best of 16:40 on Oct. 9.
Samuel Grice, Washougal
Sophomore placed 11th at the 2A state meet and was runner up at district meet. Personal best of 15:47 on Oct. 16 and seven 5K races under 16:35.
Joran Lamoreaux, Woodland
Senior was 13th at the 2A state meet and fourth at the district meet. Ran under 16:35 for 5K eight times, with a personal best of 15:43 on Oct. 2
James Puffer, Camas
Junior was runner up at 4A district meet. Had a personal best of 16:20 in placing 10th at the Hole in the Wall Varsity Gold race Oct. 10.
Hayden Reich, Camas
Junior was 4A district champion. Broke 17 minutes in five of eight 5K races this season, with a personal best of 16:37 on Sept. 28.