Abby Casey runs to victory at Augie

Abby+Casey+runs+to+victory+at+Augie

Clint Ugolini

The track and cross country teams at Augustana College are full of fantastic athletes that are also competitors in the classroom. One athlete in particular that gets the job done on and off the course is junior Abby Casey.
Throughout the two plus years Casey has been a part of Augustana’s cross country and track teams, her catalog is littered with records and achievements in athletics. So far, she has earned six CCIW Top Ten finishes, Academic All-Conference, three race times (two in cross country and one in track) that are top ten in Augustana history and has been voted MVP by the Augustana coaches twice.
But what might even be more impressive is what Casey is able to accomplish outside of her sports. Casey is a biology major with a focus in physician’s assistant, while being involved in Pre-SOMA a pre-medicine club at Augie. She volunteers at the River Bend FoodBank where she packages food for families with food insecurity, and works for Pepsico as part of the recreation staff.  On top of everything she helps our first-years get comfortable at Augustana as a peer mentor.
The beginning of this drive and work ethic began back when Casey first started track in eighth grade.
“I tried being a sprinter but I wasn’t very good at it. And when I got to high school, I was talked into running cross country originally to stay in shape for soccer. I played soccer in high school with my little sister Grace, but when I got to college I made the transition from soccer to cross country,” Casey said.
When Casey was looking into colleges, running track and cross country was a must, and Augustana fit the bill.
Running has now turned into a passion of hers that drives the rest of her life. Whether it’s keeping herself healthy or finding an interest in dermatology, running is the key to it all.
“Running has helped me find things that I want to do in life: to be a good person, eat well, have healthy skin and overall just be a very healthy person,” Casey said. “In high school, I didn’t think a lot about strength training or eating. That started in college when I wanted to prove to myself how much faster I could get. I found through that my passion for health, dermatology and the human body.”
This passion and work ethic isn’t only found in her words. Coaches and teammates alike have only the best things to say about her. Senior Jessica Lechtenberg talked about Casey as an athlete and teammate.
Abby is a driven and focused athlete. She gives 110 percent every single day to make herself stronger and faster. It’s really incredible to see how she transitions from a state of mental focus during reps to being a positive and encouraging teammate. She definitely leads by example, delivering and challenging herself to be the best, but she also cheers on the rest of the team,” Lechtenberg said.
An assistant coach for Augustana cross country, Josh Sherrod, had similarly positive things to say about Casey.
“She is everything you could ask for in an athlete. As coaches, we often speak of the ‘little things’ that happen outside of practice. Abby is a great example of someone who does those ‘little things’ to get better as a person, athlete and teammate. She is very supportive and caring for her teammates and she wants to see them individually reach their goals, and together, reach our team goals,” Sherrod said.
Problems do arise for Casey whether it’s tough classes, lots of homework, demanding practice and what feels like not enough time in the day to get everything done. But even through an already jam-packed life, she always finds ways to sacrifice her time in order to be there for others. Lechtenberg has a first-hand experience of Casey’s sacrifice.
“During a Sunday long-run this fall, I had decided to go for a 12 mile run, but the rest of the team was planning on doing less mileage that day. Abby was planning on cross-training for part of her workout, but she decided to go a little further so I wouldn’t have to run alone. She ended up doing all 12 miles and it was one of my favorite runs of the season,” Lechtenberg said.
And when she isn’t sacrificing her time for others, she’s gutting out a race and putting it all on the line for herself and the team. Coach Sherrod talked about a race where Casey exemplified her drive and hard work.
“There are quite a few that stick out, from running and training with her, to CCIW all Conference places, but one that really sticks out was an outdoor 3K held at Benedictine University. The weather was horrible. Windy, cold, rainy, everything you don’t hope for during an outdoor track season and while other events were being pulled due to weather, the distance ladies lined up to race. It was Abby’s first race back since the previous cross country season and she raced fiercely, running a personal record of 11:02 in extremely rough conditions. I knew at this point she was going to be a force to be reckoned with-in the CCIW,” Sherrod said.
Whether it’s in the classroom earning her biology major, packaging food for families in the Quad Cities, sacrificing her time to practice with a teammate or putting it all on the line for her team, Casey is always working and displaying why she’s as successful as she is.
Look out for her in the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons, when she looks to add more accolades to her shining collection. CCIW Teams competition better lookout, because Casey still has one more year to improve, to grow and climb up Augustana’s rankings.