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Senior sprinter Cassandra Nemec found the right pace to succeed in her races with the Guilford girls’ outdoor track team this spring. Cassandra was named the Indians’ co-Most Improved Player as a result. (Photo courtesy of Cassandra Nemec )
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Cassandra Nemec was a fast runner as a kid and decided to put her speedy feet to good use by stepping into track and field. In her final season with the Guilford girls’ outdoor track team, Cassandra employed a steady approach to pacing that helped her burn rubber in the lanes.
Cassandra recently completed her senior year at Guilford High School. She was a horse rider while growing up, before trotting over to the track in middle school. Cassandra found her niche as a sprinter during her high school tenure, ultimately running the 100, the 200, and the 400 for the Indians this spring. Cassandra finished her career in grand fashion by taking home a share of Guilford’s Most Improved Player Award as a senior.
“In middle school, I had wanted to try something new, and I always loved running,” says Cassandra. “[Head Coach Jon Rivera] did a good job of pushing me to be better than I was the week before. I tried to run a half-second better here and there each week. I kept looking at others and seeing how they were doing, but having a coach who zoned in on me helped make a huge difference.”
Cassandra says that she likes running the 200, because it puts both her speed and stamina to the test. In her senior season, Cassandra also found her footing in the 400—a race that had been challenging for her in recent years.
“The 200 was always my favorite. It’s a happy medium of distance and an all-out sprint, which I love,” Cassandra says. “I always had a love-hate relationship with the 400 until this year. I had to figure out my pacing for it and, once I did, it grew on me this year. For the 100, I go all out from the start and go as fast as I can. It was difficult to hold myself back and pace myself at first, because I wasn’t used to it, but I nailed it down and figured it out.”
While she wasn’t a captain, Cassandra played a pivotal role as one of only three seniors on a young Guilford club this season. Cassandra enjoyed the experience of leading a small, but unified squad, while fostering a special sort of kinship amongst every athlete on the roster.
“There weren’t a lot of seniors on the team, but we were a close-knit group of girls that stuck it out all four years,” says Cassandra. “We knew one another and our backstories so well, which helped. And in that sense, I enjoyed being a part of a smaller team.”
Coach Rivera says that Cassandra not only displayed great dedication on the track, but also made a big difference with how much she helped the Indians outside of competition.
“Cassie was a pleasure to have on the team the last four years. She had a great season to end her track career,” Rivera says. “What she brought to the team off the track is what we will miss the most. Cassie was very reliable and helped out at every road race and fundraiser we had and always volunteered herself for things. Without asking, she was the first to help put stuff away or ask if the coaches needed anything.”
Knowing that it was all up to her, Cassandra was highly motivated to realize her potential as a runner at Guilford High School. Cassandra plans on using that same type of drive as she strives for success in other areas of her life.
“As an athlete, this program pushed me to be the best I could be, because it’s such an individualized sport, and performance is all up to you. So, when I did have a good race, it made me feel that much better,” says Cassandra. “My attitude from track also reflected in my attitude as a student and person.”
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