NR’s Williams is an overcomer
Published 4:46 pm Saturday, November 14, 2015
Nansemond River High School junior cross country runner Casey Williams has shown that not much can stand in her way.
Her performance on the muddy terrain of Bells Mill Park in the Region 5A South championships on Nov. 4 qualified her to compete at the state championships this year and led to her being the Duke Automotive-Suffolk News-Herald Player of the Week.
She placed 38th in a field of 134 female runners at regionals with a time of 21:34.49 in the 5,000-meter run and was the only Nansemond River runner, girl or boy, to make it to states.
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“I felt like it was good,” Williams said of her performance. “It wasn’t a (personal record), but it was good. It was better than conference.”
Nansemond River coach Jason Reed said, “I thought she did really well. She just carried the team all year, and she really came in pretty strong.”
He noted that at the regional level, there was better competition than what she had been facing earlier in the season. Nevertheless, her performance helped the Lady Warriors place 11th in a field of 19 teams.
At the Virginia High School League Group 5A state championships on Friday in The Plains, she was not terribly pleased with her time but was pleased to have made it to states for the second straight year.
“I was really proud of myself for making it a second time,” she said. “Back in seventh grade I had back surgery and I had 19 screws and two rods put into my back, so I never thought I’d be able to do all of this.”
Scoliosis brought about the need for the surgery.
“My spine was at a 53-degree angle, so they had to straighten it up,” Williams said.
Her performance now as a runner would leave no one suspecting she had overcome such a condition, and the drive is on to keep getting better.
As for what has been necessary to improve, she said, “Definitely tougher workouts and more of them, even though sometimes you don’t want them.”
One of these tougher workouts will include five mile repeats, which involve running a mile, followed by a short break of about a minute and a half followed by the next mile until she has run five.
She credits Warriors seniors Nicholas Gill and Kevin Tohak for recommending good workouts for her.
Gill noted that since there has been transition at the coaching position for Nansemond River’s cross country program, it has been important for the runners to stick together and push each other to get better.
He will get together with Williams and Tohak on the weekends to run, and their friendship has helped them push each other.
Regarding Williams making states for the second year in a row, Gill said, “I’m really proud of her for being able to do that. When she first came out, she was struggling pretty hard.”
But he said even with her back, she has worked hard, and “she’s definitely excelled along the way. It’s been fun to watch.”