This month, Rowland Hall senior Carson Burian committed to the University of Alabama’s track & field and cross country team as a distance runner. He will join the NCAA Division I team next fall as a member of the 2021–2022 roster.
Carson’s dedication to cross country has helped set the tone for Rowland Hall’s team since 2017. Though he will doubtlessly be remembered for his many athletic achievements—among them, four first-place finishes at the Region 17 Championships, a four-year membership in First Team 2A All-State, and recognition as Most Valuable Player, 2017–2020—he will also be remembered for his leadership. As a team member and team captain, Carson was instrumental in leading the boys’ team to a third-place finish at the State 2A Championships (2017 and 2018), a first-place team State finish (2019), and a second-place State finish (2020).
“Carson's discipline and conscientious training are beyond compare,” said Dr. Laura Johnson, Rowland Hall’s assistant cross country coach. “He's built upon his native talent through consistent effort, listening to his body, and pushing himself even during off seasons. But what's been more exciting to watch as a coach is his growing self-awareness as a runner. The development of that faculty led Carson to offer feedback to other runners on their training and form, externalizing his focus in a way that's helped to unify and improve our team. I wish him much success at Alabama, in the form of further self-knowledge as well as top finishes.”
We asked Carson to share more about his experience at Rowland Hall and what he’s looking forward to as a member of the Crimson Tide. The following interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Congratulations on signing with Alabama! How does it feel?
It feels great. I cannot thank everybody enough who helped me get where I am. It is extremely relieving, knowing I accomplished what I set out to do freshman year. The feeling I have gained—knowing all the emotions tied with my academics and athletics have paid off at the highest level of NCAA play—is everything I could ask for.
Tell me about your athletic journey up to this point. How did you discover your love of running?
I started cross country in sixth grade; however, I didn’t really have a burning desire to do it. I never trained for any of my three seasons in middle school, and I did not really train that intensely going into high school. However, once I found myself in high school, and competing with remarkable athletes across the country, I realized my love for running, but even more so my love for competing. Once I found the love for both, I didn’t set limits on how far I could go.
You've had an impressive cross country career at Rowland Hall. What is one of your favorite memories of your time here?
I want to let all athletes at small schools know that you are not limited because of your school’s size. It isn’t going to be easy by any means, and you are going to have to put everything you have into it, but you can reach anything you desire.
I have many great memories, but I would have to say my junior year at State was the most memorable. We were the favorites going in, but bad races struck members of the team, leading to an uncertain finish. The pain that I saw some of my teammates go through on the final straightaway was the most pure form of competitive spirit I have seen in my life. The willingness of my teammates to put themselves on the line for a State title, to go through that amount of pain for a trophy, is one of the most respectable things I have experienced, and I am extremely proud to say I was their teammate.
What skills did you build at Rowland Hall—both on the track and in the classroom—that you'll be taking with you to college?
Definitely maturity in every aspect in life. The rigorous academics and elite-level athletics crafted me into a time-efficient student-athlete. I learned how to manage everything I wanted with my athletics, and maintain high levels in each respect.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the Rowland Hall community?
I want to let all athletes at small schools know that you are not limited because of your school’s size. It isn’t going to be easy by any means, and you are going to have to put everything you have into it, but you can reach anything you desire. I also want to thank Rowland Hall Athletics for supplementing me with help for my recruitment process.