A new outlook has Cook Inlet Academy senior Brian Beeson clocking his fastest times on the cross country trails.
"This summer, I stepped back and re-evaluated my running," said Beeson, who stands 6-foot-2. "I was able to see that I wasn't running for myself. I was able to realize that God gave me a gift for running and that I should use it."
Beeson's parents, Steve and Cheryl, noticed the difference this summer in Brian's training.
"Before, I had to encourage him to run," Steve said. "Sometimes he would run, but sometimes he would do this or that.
"This summer, he set up a schedule for himself and stuck to it."
All the miles Beeson put in this summer are paying off for him this year. At the Skyview Invitational, he improved on his time over last year by 29 seconds. He finished seventh in 17 minutes, 24 seconds.
"He's in good enough shape this year to race," said CIA cross country coach Ted McKenney. "Before, he was always reacting to other runners."
McKenney said a good example of the new Beeson came early in the season when he won a race that included runners from Anchorage Christian Schools, one of the best Class 1-2-3A teams in the state.
"That was the first real race where he stepped up and took control of the race from the other runners," McKenney said.
While Beeson has no doubt that his training from this summer is paying dividends, he said his greatest improvement this season has come in the mental aspect of running.
"I am actually starting to race," he said. "Before, I just went out there and ran.
"I've never been able to push into the pain before."
Beeson has only been running competitively since his freshman year.
He had been playing basketball since elementary school when, as a freshman, some co-workers from a summer job convinced him to go out for cross country. Beeson figured it would be a good way to get in shape for basketball.
Cheryl said when Brian was young, he was gangly. However, she remembers watching him run one day in eighth grade and realizing how coordinated his running had become.
However, Cheryl was still surprised when Brian finished in under 20 minutes at the Skyview Invitational as a freshman.
"I made an idiot of myself jumping up and down and screaming because he did so well," Cheryl said.
Beeson ran faster with each week as a freshman and won the Region II, Class 1-2-3A race by 11 seconds.
"I still have no idea how I did that," Beeson said of the region win.
Beeson finished 16th at the Class 1-2-3A state meet as a freshman.
The Eagles won a Class 2A state title in basketball in Beeson's freshman year, but he spent most of the season sitting on the bench. At that point, Beeson's focus started to shift from hoops to running.
"His whole freshman year, he caught the running bug," Steve said. "As he continued to have success, that got him real interested."
Beeson won regions and took fourth in state during his sophomore and junior years. As a junior, he also became more interested in track, winning the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the Region II Track and Field Championships.
This year, Beeson would like to win his fourth straight region title, then see where the chips fall at state. Seward's Matt Adams has been the dominant Class 1-2-3A runner so far this year, beating Beeson by almost a minute at the Skyview Invitational.
"It'd be awesome winning state, but Matt Adams is so far ahead of me right now," Beeson said. "He's doing awesome.
"I'll just have to go out and give it what I've got. If I can do that, I'll be satisfied."
McKenney said the most outstanding attribute that makes Beeson a good runner is his work ethic. His parents said that work ethic extends to other areas of Beeson's life, where he has a 4.0 grade point average at CIA and is a member of the National Honors Society.
"He puts forth his best effort in whatever he attempts, whether it be school, running or work," Steve said. "He's conscientious about what he does.
"With that kind of integrity, he's been a kid we can pretty well trust. We've never had to question him about a whole lot of things."
Beeson is not sure where he is going to college or what he will study when he gets there, but he would like to try and continue running.
"I don't know if he'll run in the future, but his best years are ahead of him," McKenney said. "His strength and conditioning are all beginning to mature at this point in his life."
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