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By Nathan Pace
Perry Meridian graduate Kieran Casey is in a class all by herself as three-sport athlete in Division I while doing clinicals to earn her degree in nursing. It has been a busy four years since high school, but Casey has a national championship in cross-country and plenty of other great experiences to show for it.
“We don’t really get a break,” she said. “We practice in the morning. After that I can go to class and get all my homework done at night, which is really nice. The coaches are really cooperative with scheduling because the nursing schedule is quite hectic with clinicals.”
Casey is completing her senior year at the University of New Mexico, but she began her college career at UIndy. She ran cross-country, and was in All-American in indoor and outdoor track.
She picked UIndy over Purdue, Missouri and Butler in part because she had a close relationship with the coach, Kathy Casey, her mom. Kathy admits it was sometimes tough staying objective coaching her daughter.
“The hard part was Kieran was so good and not wanting to overdo the recognition for her because you had to separate yourself as the coach and yourself as the mom and try not to be the overexcited mom. I would send texts to her afterward on how I really wanted to express myself because you didn’t want anyone to think you were playing favorites,” said Kathy Casey, also a graduate of Perry Meridian.
The Caseys are a rare mother-daughter duo to have both of their pictures on the school’s Athletic Wall of Fame. Kieran earned the honor with a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 meters her senior year, in addition to All-State honors as a freshman and sophomore. Both still keep in touch with retired Perry Meridian track coach Gary Brendel and cross-country coach Mike Armstrong.
At UIndy, despite being only 5 feet 4 inches tall, Kieran trained with men on the school’s team as she had the speed to keep up with the guys.
“She’s the type that’s kind of a chameleon, she can tackle anything,” Kathy said. “I knew that she would prevail and survive because she steps up to the occasion.”
After two seasons as a Greyhound, Kieran was looking for a new team as the school parted ways with Kathy as its running coach. Her mom referred her to New Mexico coach Joe Franklin, who she knew from when he coached at Butler over a decade ago.
“I’ve always loved the idea of moving out to the desert in the Southwest, and it seemed like a good opportunity to do so,” Kieran said. “I was fortunate that Joe found me and was able to find out quickly to see if I liked New Mexico and it turned out to be a good fit.”
While the warmth of Albuquerque has its perks, it also has an elevation that took a year for Casey to grow accustomed to. “I really liked the vibe of the city, but living at 5,000 feet was a big adjustment. You definitely can see that my first year with my times. I stayed here this summer just to train in the altitude, and this year I was finally able to put the pieces all together.”
Training in the thin air paid off, as Kieran and her cross-country teammates won the 2017 NCAA title, beating out favorites Oregon, Colorado and San Francisco in Louisville in the fall autumn.
Casey also had success during the indoor track season, reaching the national meet for the distance medley relay.
Her family has been able to make it out to her meets, and the Caseys still have ties to Perry Township Schools. Cathy teaches at Southport, where Kieran’s little sister, Kayden, also runs cross-country and track and plays basketball. Older siblings Kameron and Kandice also graduated from Perry Meridian.
As for life after college, “I think I want to go into ER and medicine, hopeful Trauma I, eventually. “I will be hitting the ground running when I am done here.”
Pieces fall into place for runner
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