Cross country: Siblings lead the way for Seton Catholic’s programs

David and Lara Carrion, among the top runners in the state, believe in team first

VANCOUVER — It is just as much about the ones who ran before them as it is the ones who run today.

For David and Lara Carrion, that includes their family, and their Seton Catholic family.

Seton Catholic’s David Carrion (center, wearing the Seton shirt) and his younger sister Lara, to his left, are among the state’s top runners in Class 1A. But they think team first. A year ago, the girls and boys teams both qualified for state, as teams. Photo by Paul Valencia
Seton Catholic’s David Carrion (center, wearing the Seton shirt) and his younger sister Lara, to his left, are among the state’s top runners in Class 1A. But they think team first. A year ago, the girls and boys teams both qualified for state, as teams. Photo by Paul Valencia

David, a senior, and Lara, a sophomore, are leading the way for the Seton Catholic cross country teams.

They credit older runners for showing them that way.

“The biggest part is passing down the legacy and the character of a Seton athlete and a Seton runner,” David said. “It started my freshmen year. I’ve adopted the leadership role from the older members of the team. Now I’ve been passing that on to the younger guys.

“It’s unique to Seton because of the religious atmosphere,” he added. “We are all close-knit. We all care about each other, we care for the team, and the school.”

“We’re such a small team, we have to connect,” Lara noted. “We get along with everyone. We talk to each other openly. During races, during practices, always encouraging each other. We have to be tough, aggressive and show … that just because we are small, we can still compete.”

The Seton Catholic Cougars hope to repeat last year’s feat when the boys and girls teams both qualified for the state cross country meet. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Seton Catholic Cougars hope to repeat last year’s feat when the boys and girls teams both qualified for the state cross country meet. Photo by Paul Valencia

The Cougars are doing much more than just competing these days.

Last year, for the first time, the girls and boys teams qualified for the Class 1A state meet in the same season.

The girls team had made it to 1A state in 2015, and the boys made it to state when Seton Catholic was still in Class 1B, back in 2011. 

The school still has Class B enrollment numbers but “opted up” and has been a part of Class 1A for a few years now, competing with such powers as La Center.

These days, the Cougars, led by the Carrion siblings, can say they are among the best in the region. La Center is still La Center, though. The Wildcats boys and girls won the league meet Wednesday. But the Cougars still have a shot to make it to state.

As individuals, the Carrion siblings have already had success.

David, who ran the mile in middle school but never anything longer than that until he got into high school, finished eighth in state in 2018. Lara took 10th at state as a freshman.

Both of them, though, were inspired by their older sister Elena, who represented Seton Catholic at state three times.

It was a strong family connection, plus the same coach. Jaysun Pyatt started the cross country program at Seton Catholic more than a decade ago. 

“He helped me out and we’ve been able to grow closer together,” David said.

A couple years after David started at Seton, along came Lara.

“I looked up to them and their success,” Lara said of Elena and David. “I would go to their cross country meets. I guess I just grew a liking to it.”

And they all grew into talented athletes, absorbing the coaching, dedicating themselves to the training.

“I would say the toughest part is setting aside the time to really commit to your goal,” David said. “Putting in the mileage when people aren’t looking.”

They both talk about how the best runners have to have strong minds.

“The mind is more powerful than the body,” David said. “In cross country and in track, you push the limits, and the mind helps you find that place.”

Running, Lara said, has allowed her to find where her limits have been, and how to go beyond those limitations. 

“Being on a team, you can see where your whole team can go, and you can help each other reach a certain goal,” she said.

Oh yes, the team. David and Lara are both ranked fourth in the state among Class 1A boys and girls runners, according to athletic.net, and they both want to finish in the top five at state. However, they really want that team experience again at state. 

A year ago at district, the girls finished their race and they knew they had made it. Then they waited for the boys to compete. It was too close to call, and all of the Cougars were on pins and needles.

The results were announced, and the Cougars were going to state. All of them.

“It was such a big moment for all of us,” Lara said. “We were able to represent the whole school.”

David also proudly noted that the two teams were the state academic champion in 2018.

It is all part of that Seton Catholic character, they said.

Their coach appreciates how the program has grown through the years, too. It started 11 years ago with one girl and a half-dozen or so boys, Pyatt said. 

“Since Day One, they set the tone,” Pyatt said. “It trickled down to this, that they want to do this every year.”

Next week, the boys and girls teams will head to the district meet in hopes of qualifying for state again.

“It was spectacular,” Pyatt said, recalling last year. “To see both teams lining up at the line at the state meet was a cool thing.”

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