Daniel Barna has goal. And Daniel Barna has plan.
It’s just that sometimes the Columbia River senior gets a bit to eager in executing that plan.
“Daniel is a leader and he knows he can go faster,” River cross country coach Scott Jones said. “He’s really a competitor. And because of that, I think early on sometimes the race can get away from him in terms of going out too fast.”
Last Saturday at the Nike Portland XC meet, Barna shot out to the lead and ran the first mile in 4 minutes, 48 seconds, about five to seven seconds faster than Barna and his coach planned.
“If you run sub-15:20, like he wants to do, that first mile needs to be a little more controlled,” Jones said. “But it’s hard to control when you’re in the moment.”
“I get too excited,” Barna said. “Pacing is hard.”
It’s easy get excited this fall, as cross country teams are returning to large invitational meets that weren’t part of the shortened COVID season late last winter.
“It is so much better,” Barna said. “I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to get race again. COVID has made things so difficult, and it still is. So we’re all just so lucky to be out here and running in these races again.”
As a sophomore in 2019, Barna was the runner-up in the 2A Greater St. Helens League meet in 16:08, but he placed fifth in the league meet last March in 16:30.
Coming into his senior season, Barna knew he had to get a bit more serious about his preparations.
“Going into my senior year, my (personal record) was in the 16s,” Barna said. “And if I wanted to run in college, especially (Division I), I’ve got to get my time way down, like 15:30 and under. So that was my mindset. I need to get my time down for senior year.”
Buying into a training regimen established by Jones, who made his debut as River’s coach last year, Barna debuted this fall with a win in the Steve Maas Run-A-Ree in 15:48. He set a new PR of 15:31 in finishing ninth at the Meriwether Classic in Hillsboro on Sept. 17.
“I know he’s really dedicated to it,” Jones said. “I know he wants to run at college. Hopefully, somebody gives him that chance, because they’d be getting a kid who is a big-time team player. He’s a big-time leader who will do workouts, listen to coaches, do the things he needs to do to be successful. Just a great kid.”
Despite his fast start Saturday, Barna ran 15:34 last weekend at Nike Portland XC, running most of the race by himself.
“That was the hardest I’ve worked in a race in a very long time,” Barna said. “It’s just how the race developed. So at the point, I was like ‘this is going to really hurt. But I just got to keep my head down and keep working. Just ride the pain to the end.’ ”
Jones said Barna is not just a leader on the course, but also during workouts, setting an example of what needs to be done and cheering on his teammates all the way down the roster.
“It’s great that he’s a guy that will challenge for the top spot in races, but he doesn’t short sell his team in terms of what we want to accomplish as a team,” Jones said. “It’s the balance, right? How much do you focus on yourself and how much on your team. And he does it really well.”
Boys cross country
The area’s top marks for 5,000 meters this season:
1. Daniel Barna, sr., Columbia River, 15:31
2. Joseph Blanshan, jr., La Center, 15:31
3, Sam Soto, Seton Catholic, 15:56
4, Samuel Grice, so., Washougal, 16:22
5, Joran Lamoreaux, sr., Woodland, 16:29
6, Hayden Reich, jr., Camas, 16:37
7, Marius Lafond-Kervegant, so., Union 16:38
8, Logan Bigelow, jr., Prairie, 16:42
9, Adam Nixon, sr., Mark Morris, 16:42
10, Neftali Menendez, so., Columbia River, 17:02
— Source: Athletic.net