The runner steps into the blocks. His nerves settle and his breath begins to steady. He begins to drown out the cheers and chatter despite the pressure of the situation.
He has made it all the way to the top: nationals.
This is where junior runner Mason Louis found himself over the summer.
Louis runs for the high school track team in the spring and the Dayton Wolverines, a club track team, during the winter and summer.
Last year, he competed in the 400 meter dash at nationals with his club team at the University of Northern Florida Aug. 1.
“I think it takes a lot of determination and discipline,” Louis said. “You’ve got to work hard and perfect your craft to be able to compete on a stage that big.”
However, despite his hard work, he said he was disappointed with his result at nationals after suffering an injury.
“Nationals was awful,” Louis said. “I pulled my quad and was out for four months.”
Unfortunately, because of this injury, he was unable to finish the race. However, Louis said, he was thrilled to be part of such a unique experience and is motivated to return next year.
He said that he finds the 400 meter dash to be one of the most difficult events. This is mostly due to the fact that it requires the endurance to maintain a top speed throughout the race. Despite its difficulties, he said it is still his favorite event, as it plays to his strengths.
In the 2021 outdoor season, Louis broke the high school’s 400 meter dash and 300 meter hurdles records, and he tied the 200 meter dash record by running a 21.86. Additionally, he came in first in the 400 at the 2021 state meet, running a time of 47.57.
He added his previous times for the 100 meter and 200 meter were better than the winners’ times at the state meet. Yet, because of his nerves and all three races being in one day, he finished third and fifth, respectively, in those two events. In the end, he said he was still pleased with his finish.
Even after accomplishing these feats, Louis said still holds himself to high standards for the 2022 season.
“My expectations are the same: continue to drop time and stay healthy,” he said.
Louis added that he is able to stay motivated because he has a strong desire to be able to support his family financially if they ever need it. He added that he wants to be there for his family because they have been there to support him for his whole career. Additionally, he said that his biggest dream is to go to the Olympics one day.
Boys track coach Shane Roberts said that Louis is one of the best athletes he has ever coached.
“We’ve been unable to find anything he can’t do,” Roberts said.
He said that Louis is able to perform well in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races and that there isn’t any other race that they are able to put him in without burning him out.
Roberts added that he has seen Louis grow as a person and a runner over the past few years, yet his goal for him to remains the same: to be the best version of himself.
Louis said he continues to work on his skills in a multitude of ways. For example, he explained, he lifts or trains at least five times a week to improve his times.
Roberts said that he always knew Louis was incredibly hardworking and talented, and has no doubt that he will run for a top tier Division 1 college.
Louis said he is looking forward to the school season and is most excited to reconnect with the team and try to improve upon last season.
“Right now I’m just focused on bettering my times and making it to the next level,” Louis said.