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Gators' Poyssick has not found sport she didn't like

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- Casie Possyick is not too discriminating when it comes to her affections.

"I just love every sport I do," she said. "Pretty much every sport I start, if you just tell me the rules, I'll love it and for some reason, I'm pretty good at everything I do.

"Which is good because I get pretty frustrated at myself if I don't do everything good."

She certainly proved it in one of her true loves -- soccer. That the Land O'Lakes freshman would take off her first season was a given. Already a pretty impressive youth player, she scored 20 goals for the Gators at striker and was the team's second-leading scorer.

Possyick has learned to make room for other sports: weightlifting, for one. Powder puff football. And now track and field, where the freshman will get the chance to advance to her first regional at today's Class 3A, District 9 meet at Palm Harbor University Stadium.

She joined the squad along with friends Stephanie Swanson and Katrina Giraldez. But she has since found herself swept away.

"I just wanted to keep in shape, and I kind of wanted to (try) it anyway," Possyick said. "I thought I could probably keep up, but I didn't think I would do as good as I'm doing now."

The 15-year-old is excelling at two events relatively new to her: the 400 meters and the long jump.

Her best time in the 400 this season is 65 seconds. Her best long jump -- and she's only been competing in the past three meets -- is 15 feet, 6 inches. She took fourth at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet in both events.

Possyick already wants to compete in the pole vault next season.

"She's a real strong, athletic girl, one of (soccer coach) Vicky King's good soccer girls," track coach Harold "Rock" Ridgeway said. "She's very athletic, a hard worker, very dedicated. In the (five) years I've been coaching, she's probably the best freshman I've ever coached. Casie's a lot more dedicated (than other freshman)."

What makes Possyick such a good track athlete?

Right now, it's purely physical, Ridgeway said. If she continues to work as hard at her events as she does now, Possyick will be able to improve her technique and form, build her confidence and experience and excel even more.

"I think she'll be really good if she can stick with it in the next three years and be as determined and good as she has been," Ridgeway said. "(Then) she can be one of the best in the county."

Possyick is competing off natural ability and it's served her well.

"I've been athletic my whole life," she said. "So my body's pretty toned for sports and I (competed) year-round for so long. It's like I never stop. I think I have heart and determination so I just keep going, and I'm pretty fit so I can do everything, and I'm pretty fast."

She helped Pine View Middle School to soccer championships in seventh and eighth grade. She's already contemplating which sports to participate in as a sophomore next season.

"Next year, I'm going to do volleyball, basketball or soccer and track and weightlifting," she said. "My dad (Arthur) kept me in sports my whole life in basketball and soccer. I've been playing since I was six or seven."

Track is a different animal to tame, however.

"I'm surprising myself in the long jump, even though I've never done that before," she said, "and I found out how hard the 400 is. I didn't know it would be this hard because it's a full sprint around the track and it's really, really tiring."

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