When a track and field athletes wins a sectional title and has a runner-up finish as a sophomore, she figures to have nothing but success the following two years.
That was certainly true for Borden’s Carson Casey.
Casey won the shot put at last year’s Corydon Central Sectional with a throw of 34-feet and 6-inches. She finished second to Floyd Central’s Leah Wolfe in the discus with a toss of 100-5.
The 2013 season expected to be a big one for Casey, but a right knee injury — and subsequent arthroscopic knee surgery — sustained during basketball season made for a slow start to her junior campaign.
“She had a late start,” Borden coach Liz Carmony said. “She had a tough time getting back into it.”
Casey is still struggling with the shot put, which takes a lot of leg strength. However, on Monday she threw the discus 103 feet, just a few feet short of her all-time best. She threw 114 feet to finish fifth at last year’s Bloomington North, only two places out of a spot in the state finals.
Casey threw the shot put 30-11 on Monday, less than four feet short of last year’s sectional championship toss.
“She’s starting to get her confidence back up,” Carmony said. “Shot used to be her better area and she’s starting to get that back. Slowly she’s been seeing improvement. She’s focusing on getting back to where she was. Each week has been progress.”
Casey spent a few minutes with the News and Tribune after winning the shot put and discus at Monday’s three-way meet at Clarksville. The following is an edited version of that conversation.
QUESTION: Where are you as far as percentage back from your knee injury?
CASEY: “I’ve had some ups and downs. One day I’ll feel maybe 80 percent then I’m back down. Right now, I’ll probably say 70 percent. I’m feeling decent, but I still have some rough days. So I’ll say 70 percent.”
Q: You threw 103 feet in the discus [on Monday]. Your all-time best is 114. So are you getting close to where you want to be?
CASEY: “Yeah. I’ve been focusing on form, not necessarily distance. It’s taking my numbers down, but it’s going to be worth it in the end. I feel more comfortable.”
Q: Has it been more difficult in the shot put because of the dipping and the bending of the knees?
CASEY: “At shot put, I have to start over my right leg. That’s the knee I had surgery on. That’s taken a toll on [the knee], but I’m getting used to it.”
Q: With the knee problem, is it a realistic goal to expect to repeat as sectional champion?
CASEY: “I think so. I have to work hard, but at this point, it is my goal. It’s definitely going to take some hard work.”
Q: You finished 10th in the shot put and fifth in the discus at regional a year ago. You coach [Liz Carmony] told me you were disappointed with that performance. What’s going to be different this year and what’s the ultimate goal for the season?
CASEY: “The ultimate goal is to make it to state. This year, I’ll already have that experience. [Throwing at regional] was kind of a shock last year. I hadn’t heard of half the schools there last year. Now I know how it’s going to go and what to expect, so I can relax this year. One of my big issues is relaxing, so it will help to have that experience.”
Q: Was there any intimidation watching how good the girls were at regional, throwing the discus 142 feet and the shot put 44 feet?
CASEY: “Yeah, but then again, it gave me confidence, too. I was kind of close to them, so it helped me with my confidence that I can throw with some of the best throwers in the state.”
Q: Speaking of the confidence. Has recovering from the knee injury been as much about the confidence in the knee as it has been about the knee pain or knee strength?
CASEY: “Yeah, the injury hurt my confidence. It was hard. I’ve never been injured. I’ve never missed anything. I had to get back to thinking, ‘My knee’s OK now. It’s going to be fine.’”
Q: What is it about throwing that you like so much?
CASEY: “It’s on me. It’s not a team thing. All my other sports are team things. This is on me. I can focus on my throwing. What I do won’t hurt anybody else and it won’t help anybody else. It’s just me. And I can get plenty of one-on-one time with my [throwing] coach [Toby Cheatham].”
Q: What drew you to track and field, and throwing, in particular?
CASEY: “I actually played softball since I was a little kid. Then our school didn’t have a [softball] team and I wanted to do something in the spring in high school. So I decided to switch to track in seventh grade.”
Q: But why throwing?
CASEY (laughing): “Everybody told me I looked strong. So I was like, ‘OK, I’ll try it.’”
Q: How much do you think Coach Cheatham has helped your development?
CASEY: “A ton of it is him. Obviously, I have natural strength and talent, but he comes in every day and knows what you need to do.”
Q: You had a good basketball this season — individually and as a team. It was a disappointing finish, obviously, as the defending champions losing to New Washington in the sectional. Do you think you have something for them next year?
CASEY: “We’re going to try. They’re a really good team. They’re really talented. Definitely that loss motivated us.”