It was a frigid day for a track meet when Columbia County girls teams met on April 3 to decide the best in the area. The cold, damp weather led one coach to dub the event the "Pneumonia Invitational."
Alex Cassagnol didn't seem to mind. The Lakeside senior won the 100-meter hurdles during the Columbia County girls championship with a time of 16.66 seconds.
The time was a personal best, but Cassagnol didn't know it until long after. She seemed more interested with finishing first.
"It feels great coming across the finish line and no one's around you," she said.
Cassagnol competes in the high jump, triple jump, 100 hurdles and 4x100 relay. She also was one of the Panthers' top basketball players and was named an all-region player her final two seasons.
"We're going to have a hard time filling those shoes," Lakeside track and basketball coach Mo McCormack said.
Cassagnol played four years of varsity basketball and competed four years on the Panthers track and field team.
Lakeside's girls basketball team won three games during Cassagnol's first season. As a senior, Cassagnol and her team won 14.
McCormack gives a lot of credit for the turnaround to her leading rebounder and shot blocker.
"We've been much more competitive," McCormack said. "She's been a big part of that."
Cassagnol credited her coach and an influx of new talent for her team's turnaround.
"Having a strong coach, having the team work together -- a lot of that made a big difference," she said.
Cassagnol said her favorite track and field event is the high jump. She's cleared 5-2, tying a school record, but wasn't so lucky during the Columbia County meet.
Her height of 4-8 was good enough for third.
The combination of the cold and the wet surfaces made the competition tricky.
"You just have to bring a lot of power to it," Cassagnol said. "It's a lot to think about when you're jumping."
Cassagnol thought a lot about her events April 12 at the Taco Bell Classic in Columbia. She didn't qualify for the finals of the 100 hurdles, but the experience gave her the opportunity to prepare for Saturday's Region 3-AAAA meet.
Cassagnol plans to attend Georgia Southern University in the fall. She wants to run track, and she knows the team manager, whom she said has mentioned her name to coaches.
Cassagnol said whether she competes for the Eagles likely will be determined by how she finishes the season.
"It depends on what times I get this year," she said. "But that would be nice."
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