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No task too great for Castanien
Lady President junior helps track team in many ways
By BOB PUTMAN
The Marion Star
Editor's note: The subjects in this series are chosen as we go about the business of reporting local sports. The subjects of these stories are not the superstars, but they are just as important to the team's success.
MARION - Harding girls track coach Marcia Pitts got an indication pretty early as to what kind of athlete she was going to have in Alexa Castanien.
"In our first meet of the year when Alexa was a freshman I needed volunteers for some of the events because we had quite a few athletes missing," Pitts said. "I asked for volunteers to be in the 4x800. Alexa immediately said 'I'll do it" but her next statement was 'what is an 800.'" She wanted to help the team even though she did not know what the event was."
That willingness to help in any way she could has not changed for the junior Lady President.
"I thought two laps around the track can't be that bad," Castanien remembered of her introduction to high school track. "If it will get the team more points I will do it and beside you might end up with a medal. I pretty much will try anything."
"That has been her mentality all along," Pitts said.
Castanien did admit running the two laps was a little more than she expected but Pitts said she ran her split under three minutes and "that is not too bad for somebody who has not ever run the event."
That interest in helping the team the best way she could led Castanien to competing in the pole vault.
"In my freshman year we needed somebody to pole vault," she said. "The coaches came up to me and asked me if I would like to try it. It kind of went from there and I like doing it and getting better."
When she is not competing in the pole vault or her other events, the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and the 4x400, Castanien likes to keep things lively among her teammates.
"I try to not be that serious because if you do it wouldn't be that much fun," she said.
"Alexa has always been a hard worker and has a good work ethic," Pitts said. "She keeps pretty upbeat in practice and doesn't take herself too seriously."
Castanien has also tried to become more of a leader on the team.
"With just two seniors, the juniors have to step up and take the lead," she said.
With possibly knowing she would be needed for that kind of role, Castanien increased her off-season work load.
"I had previously played basketball but this time I lifted more during the winter," she said. "It has helped me a lot with my strength and stamina for the pole vault and running events. I am not getting tired as soon as I used to."
"She consistently put in the time during the off season," Pitts said.
Castanien's top effort in the pole vault is 8 feet, 6 inches.
"Coach (Ed) Henning is always talking about swinging the hips and having my knees drawn," she said.
When it comes to the hurdle events, especially the 300, keeping the same form is important to having a good time.
Although that can be difficult when it comes to the last hurdle right before the finish.
"When you get to the last hurdle you almost say 'forget the form, just get over the hurdle and get to the finish line,'" Castanien said.
A forum to discuss pole vaulting or anything else relating to Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio.
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