Williams embraces new course
Published 9:14 pm Saturday, November 8, 2014
It is amazing what a simple act of friendship can bring about.
Nansemond River High School sophomore Casey Williams knows this better than most. For her, it brought about her running career, which has just soared to new heights of achievement as the final cross country meets of 2014 have begun.
She produced a time of 20:59.33 in the girls’ 5000-meter run on Oct. 30 to become the individual girls’ Ironclad Conference champion. This performance also led her to becoming the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
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Williams won the conference championship by just under 45 seconds in a field of 29 runners.
“I was very happy about that win,” she said. “One of my goals was to become conference champ, and during that race, I felt really good.”
Her performance also helped power the Nansemond River girls’ team to a conference win.
Commenting on what Williams has brought to the squad this year, Lady Warriors cross country coach Kurt Straub cited leadership, noting she is a team captain.
“Girls kind of look up to her,” he said. “She’s obviously my best runner.”
Straub added this is a status she has achieved through guts, heart and hard work.
“She’s actually put the time and the effort into it,” he said. “She’s dedicated to the sport.”
However, this all is part of a remarkable course change that Williams experienced before the start of the 2013 season.
When she tried out as a freshman, she said, she had “no running experience at all before that, none whatsoever. I did not like running at all.”
In fact, she only went to the tryouts because of a friend, sophomore Caroline Hubbard.
“She asked me if I would go and try out with her,” Williams said.
Hubbard was interested in running, but said, “I didn’t want to go alone.”
Williams, not expecting to like it, said she told Hubbard, “I’m probably going to quit, but I’ll go out there with you.”
Williams ended up falling in love with the sport, though, enjoying both the competition it provided and its hybrid nature.
“I just really like that it’s both a team and an individual sport,” she said.
Straub said, “Last year, her times were dropping really, really low, and then during indoor track, she seemed to really kick it up.”
Williams said indoor track was her favorite sport last school year. That was also when she finally concluded that running really was her thing after establishing herself in cross country.
She also competed in outdoor track and attended the Appalachian State University cross country camp in the summer.
When Straub saw Williams’ dedication after her freshman season, he said, “I was like, ‘All right, she’s going to be my No. 1.’”
“I’m always wanting to know from my coaches what I should be doing at home, and I’m always at practice, and I’m always trying to do my best at practice,” Williams said.
After introducing her grudging friend to the sport and finding that she actually liked it, Hubbard’s initial shock at Williams’ rapid ascent has been tempered by confidence in her friend.
“I’m not surprised, because I knew she could do it.”