Running Down Under

Journal/Bobby Abplanalp

Cassie Lard, 17, stands outside the Journal Tuesday, July 17, holding her track and field medals she won competing in Brisbane, Australia, in the triple jump and 4x100-meter relay. She was on a team of competitors from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas, participating in the Down Under Sports program. U.S. high school coaches nominate athletes to participate. Lard will be a senior at Dolores High School.

By Bobby Abplanalp Journal staff writer

Cassie Lard and her Dolores Lady Bears relay teammates had a bit of a disappointing finish to the 2012 season at the state championships.

They didn’t defend their title in the 4x100 and finished a surprising fifth-place.

Individually, Lard took home a bronze medal in the 200-meter relay. Not a bad way to finish up her junior year.

But she kept running.

Lard, 17, ran Down Under this summer — in Brisbane, Australia.

She was selected by high school coaches in the area to compete in the Down Under Sports program in June. Down Under Sports is a week long competition in a variety of athletics. Teams are selected in sections from around the United States and Australia. Lard was on a team of athletes from Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. She was coached by Joe Arsola.

“It was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. It was a blast,” she said, enthusiastically.

Lard ran the 200 (13th), 100 (11th), 4x100 and the triple jump. The latter two the Dolores senior-to-be medaled in.

“It was pretty cool, because there were several people that were competing for Olympic times to go to London,” she said. “That was cool to watch them run.”

Her relay team took fourth and Lard leaped to a seventh-place distance in the triple jump, which was recorded in meters instead of feet.

“That was kind of different,” Lard said. “We were kind of unsure how far exactly we were jumping.”

Her team was called the “Kookaburras,” which is a bird native to Australia. More than 300 athletes were at the competition.

The Cortez resident did not even know she was in a selected pool to go to Australia. It was a surprise one day in the mail to say the least.

“I was pretty shocked and amazed,” Lard said. “My parents (Kate and Rick Lard) were pretty unsure, but I’m glad I got to go.”

Lard has major goals for her senior year at Dolores. One of which is to take state in the 200.

“I’m going to train a lot harder and not slack off,” she said. “That would make my senior year for me. To do something like that.”

Lard wants to compete in college if the opportunity arises and major in radiology at either Colorado State (Fort Collins) or Colorado Mesa (Grand Junction).

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