Senior runner Caskey improving in varsity season

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By LANCE CATCHINGS

Senior Aubrey Caskey was a junior varsity cross country runner last season, but her improvement over the past year has been so significant that she’s not only running at the varsity level, but she’s led her team in every meet they have run.

At the Salado Tenroc Invitational, Caskey ran a blazing 12:45, which was her fastest time this season. Head Cross Country Coach Kim Holt said Caskey’s consistency in the top spot is no surprise, considering the hard work she’s put in.

“Aubrey has grown so much from last year to this year,” Holt said. “She has gone from our number eight runner on varsity to our number one runner. The team looks for her to be the top runner now. She has been consistent all year with being the number one runner for us. Her work ethic in practice has been awesome. She always meets the times we set for her. She has a very determined attitude this year. She set her mind to running over the summer and it has really paid off. It is amazing to see an athlete transform in such a short time and achieve what she has so far. Hard work really does pay off.”

Caskey was a sophomore move-in from Corrigan and said she chose running because of her track history. This past summer, she knew she wanted to improve, so she put her feet to the pavement.

“Over the summer, I knew this would be my last season to run and I really needed to kick it in,” Caskey said. “I wanted to put effort into it this year, so I trained over the summer. I ran five to six miles up to four times a week as part of my training. I didn’t do any speed workouts, but I did lots of long runs. I feel like the summer training helped me a lot with stamina. I ran at Foundation Park a few times with people from the team, but the rest of the time, I trained by myself. I generally ran in my neighborhood, and there is a track nearby where I would run, as well. By the time the summer ended, my pace was almost a minute faster, so I knew I was improving.”

Her summer training had a positive effect on her fall performances, too. When she met with her team for fall workouts, she felt extremely prepared.

“I felt I was a lot more prepared headed into this season than some of the other girls were,” she said. “I felt the summer training helped a lot with that. The first day when we ran and I found myself in the lead, I thought maybe I can keep this up, but I doubted it. I was very surprised to be the lead girl for our team when the season started. Last week, at Salado, I ran my fastest time of the season. I like that course a lot. Although it is kind of hilly, I don’t feel like it bothers me much.”

Despite her hard work, Caskey never expected this amount of success headed into the season. Now that she’s clearly the top runner on the team, she tries to lead her teammates by motivating them to keep up with her – if they can.

“I have surprised myself very much,” she said. “I never thought I could be capable of being the top runner, because I was always the last girl to finish. Now that I have moved into the position where I am the first girl to finish, it really motivates me. In practice, I feel like I must be way out in front to help push our team to keep up with me. When we are training, I usually pace off how far the girls are behind me. If my teammates start catching up to me, then I know that I am not running fast enough. During the meets, I try to keep a fast pace and pass a few girls throughout the course.”

Logic would tell you that someone so successful at long-distance running would enjoy it, but Caskey is just the opposite.

“When I am running, I think about it being over,” she said. “When I start a race, I am already ready for it to be over. I think about how much farther we have to go and sometimes I try to sing a song, but it never really sticks.”

Caskey’s only regret is that she waited so long to push herself to find out what she could really do on the cross country course.

“I absolutely have regrets that I waited so long to push myself the way I am now,” she said. “If I could go back, I would tell myself you can do a lot better than this if you try. You need to have the mindset that you can do it and push yourself harder to accomplish it.”

Caskey and her teammates were rained out at the Round Rock Invitational over the weekend, but will travel to Lampasas for their last regular season meet of the season Friday. They will return to Lampasas Thursday, Oct. 11 to run the district meet.

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