NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Norview High School has been known for its sprinters when it comes to running and track and field. Cassidy Fernandez is putting the Pilots' distance running program on the map.
Cassidy started out as a soccer player, but her favorite part of practice was always the drills that involved running. When she reached ninth grade, her mother pointed her towards cross country.
"It just gives me most of the time to think," she said of running. "When I'm upset or I'm in a bad mood I can always just go for a run, clear my head, and that helps."
"The girl is fearless," added Taylor Jacobs, Norview's cross country coach. "The first day she was like whoever the fastest person is, that's who she's going to go run with."
It didn't take long for Cassidy to find her stride. She qualified for the state cross country meet as a sophomore, an experience that ignited her hunger and competitive drive even more.
"The whole experience was just exciting and enlightening," she said. "I just want to keep coming back for more and more."
Now a senior, the Pilot star ran her way to states for the third straight year. Cassidy capped off her high school cross country career with a 14th place finish, good enough to earn her All-State status.
"It's something I was working for since last year when I got 25th," she noted. "I just remember being in 18th most of the race this year and then I pushed through at the end and so I was super, super excited."
"She really just tore home that last 400 meters and ended up passing some girls to be able to finish All-State," Jacobs said. "I got to see this fight in her and this relentless pursuit of her goals."
While Cassidy blazes past the competition, she's also blazed a trail at her school. She's the first Norview female distance runner to ever qualify for the state cross country meet, setting a new standard for the Pilots' program.
"I feel like I can be an inspiration to others," she said. "I set the bar pretty high, I guess you could say, so now they can work for it and I'm excited to see if somebody can pass me or get better even."
"She's really taken that as a badge of honor and it hasn't really held her back," her coach added. "It sets the program, I think, on a new level in general and I have her to thank for that for sure."
Cassidy is entering her final track and field season where she hopes to break the school record in the 800 meters. She will continue her career at the college level at Washington & Lee next fall.
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