The swim team’s practices begin 19 minutes and three miles early for junior distance swimmer Casey Meeson. He runs from campus to Adventure Landings for the swim team’s evening practice from 7:30 to 9:30 each night.
“The rest of the team pulls into the parking lot in their cars with the air conditioning blasting, and here comes Casey,” sophomore swimmer Chelsea Perry, who like Meeson has had a multitude of success this season, said. “We’re just getting ready to start our workout and Casey is already halfway through one of his [workouts] as his face has beads of sweat rolling down it.”
Juggling swimming and cross-country
Meeson, a varsity athlete in both cross country and swimming, has the tough task of juggling two sports, two training regiments and two completely opposite schedules. Running to swim practice is the only way for him to complete his cross country workout as well as making it in time for the swim team’s practice.
“It is really difficult to manage the time when I am going to run or swim,” Meeson said. “For workout days I am constantly squeezing in my workouts into a short period of time. By the time night rolls around I am pretty exhausted and then I still have to study and do homework later. It is a pretty hectic schedule for me.”
When both sports overlap and their conditioning regiments collide Meeson finds himself running/swimming a combined 100 plus miles each week.
[pullquote]He was up with me during the heat wave this summer when it was 100-plus degrees on the track doing 1000 meter repeats,” Nick said. “As an athlete he is very determined and realistic. He is very confident in his ability to do well. I don’t think there is an hour in the day that he isn’t thinking about competing.”[/pullquote]
“I don’t know many people who could manage both programs,” Perry said. “Especially with cross country head coach Jack Hazen’s high-standing program and with what swim coach Brian Peresie is trying to do with the swimming program.”
In mid-February it was announced that Hazen would serve as the USA Track and Field head assistant coach in the upcoming 2012 Summer Olympics to be held in London, England.
Peresie came to Malone from Division I Ohio University where the Bobcats won National Championships along with having some Olympic Qualifiers. He is trying to model the Pioneer program in a similar way.
“The swim coach and I had to share Casey,” Hazen said. “So he wasn’t with us at all the practices or even with them probably but we were able to work it out. As an athlete, he is very talented and he was able to run on a varsity cross country team that is one of the best in the state and then went right into swimming, helping them.”
Before both seasons had arrived, Meeson, Peresie and Hazen all sat down and discussed the regime for Meeson. In the end, both coaches put all their trust in Meeson.
“Casey, Coach Hazen and I all communicated beforehand,” Peresie said.” We put a lot of trust in Casey. Not everyone knows their body and what they’re capable of, but Casey does, so we used his input as our gauge.”
“I was a little nervous at first,” Meeson said. “But once I sat down and discussed my plans with them, both coaches were pretty cool with the idea and they haven’t given me much of a problem.”
Casey, along with his twin brother, junior cross-country runner Nick Meeson, were both former student-athletes at Bowling Green University. Both athletes had been running for the track club while attending the university under no supervision and thought it was best to find a school that would bring them to bigger and better opportunities.
“Nick and I ran for the BG track club,” Casey said. “We were just training on our own, running what we considered to be great without being coached. We left because we wanted more of a coach figure to lead us to bigger and better things.”
Since arriving at Malone, Casey, along with his brother, have been able to reach those higher goals and aspirations they had been striving toward.
Nick, especially, has seen his brother train under the most extreme elements Mother Nature has to offer and still prevail.
“He was up with me during the heat wave this summer when it was 100-plus degrees on the track doing 1000 meter repeats,” Nick said. “As an athlete he is very determined and realistic. He is very confident in his ability to do well. I don’t think there is an hour in the day that he isn’t thinking about competing.”
The twin brothers started running together at a very young age when their dad decided to challenge them to race a mile on the track while he was doing his own run for the day.
Nick and Casey, who were only in the fourth grade at the time, took their first stride around the track as they raced their first mile together. From that day on they knew it wasn’t going to be the last.
[pullquote]I didn’t think he would stick to it, especially the running part,” Nick said. “Casey proved me wrong. Overall I would say there isn’t a place or time that made me the most proud but his commitment and the sacrifices he has made has really made me a proud brother.”[/pullquote]
“We raced and Casey ran 6:17, if my memory serves me right,” Nick said. “I ran a 6:14. We were in the fourth grade at the time and I remember Casey getting real upset over this. So the next week we came back, we raced again and Casey ending up beating my time, and I ended up getting upset. It has been like this ever since then.”
As young boys to growing men, the twin brothers said their competiveness amongst the two of them and the rivalry they have with each other is something they have grown to love.
“I have to say I love both sports equally,” Casey said. “But nothing can beat going out for a long run with my brother, Nick, during the summer. Do we want to beat each other? Of course we want to beat each other. But in the end we don’t go back to our dorm room and say ‘Well, I beat you by this or that.’ We both want each other to do well and excel. It’s good, friendly competition between the two of us.”
In the beginning, with such a crazy workout regime to juggle with studies, Nick had his doubts about whether his brother could actually do both sports.
“I didn’t think he would stick to it, especially the running part,” Nick said. “Casey proved me wrong. Overall I would say there isn’t a place or time that made me the most proud but his commitment and the sacrifices he has made has really made me a proud brother.”
Quitting: Not an option
Being driven and goal-oriented has always been a huge factor for Casey’s role as an athlete in both running and swimming.
Despite his stressful and hectic schedule from competing in Pioneer running and swimming programs, Casey’s attitude and ambitions still remain upbeat.
“It gets frustrating sometimes, to be honest,” Casey said. “But when I think about quitting running to just focus on swimming, I just always go back to the goals I haven’t accomplished yet. Even this season I could have just stopped and said I am done. But for some reason I just can’t let myself give up that easily.
“I still have a lot of running and swimming goals that I haven’t even came close to accomplishing,” Casey said. “I want to see those things get done first before I ever consider quitting one or the other.”
Through his dedication this semester and hard efforts at practices, Casey has been able to make a few good impressions on his teammates.
“Casey is a really dedicated hard worker,” sophomore cross-country runner Jared Zollars said. “As far as putting forth effort on the cross country team, he is always at practice and he is always pushing everybody else. I would use the word ‘workaholic’ to describe him.”
Perry also commented on her fellow teammate in the pool.
“I admire Casey for what he does,” Perry said. “He is the hardest working person on the team, and there is no question that he is unbelievable.”
If he is not running, he is swimming; if he is not swimming, he is running. Casey’s amazing work ethic and dedication have driven him to reach his goals, despite the bumps he has faced.
Casey, with his cross-country season at an end, still remains determined to run to keep in condition for his next running season. He is now, however, focusing harder on his winter sport.
“I also still have a lot of swimming goals that date back to high school that I haven’t accomplished yet, either,” Casey said.
Through a rough semester of cramming in workouts and running to swim practice, Casey remains determined as ever and hopes to end his Pioneer swim season with integrity.
“It would be nice to end the season knowing you did everything right,” Casey said. “And I have the determination to do that.”
Casey will take his next splash in the pool Dec. 2-3 at the Grove City (PA) Invitational in Pennsylvania.
Matt Anderson and Tina Oprean are staff writers for Aviso AVW.