Carlisle senior Casey Padgett is looking for more this season.
The curly haired cross country runner is coming off a track and field season in which the metaphorical torch was passed down to him from 2019 grad Jack Wisner — something Padgett knew was bound to happen when Wisner said goodbye to the Thundering Herd at the end of the school year.
“It’s weird. For me, I don’t know,” Padgett said with a smile and a shrug during a recent preseason practice. “I’ve been expecting it since the last cross country season. I knew it was coming, so I was mentally prepared for it, but now that it’s here it’s very different not having him on the team. Personality-wise, he was such a fun kid, and now this year not having him it’s definitely a different team. Being top dog, though, I don’t think it has really set in, yet. It’s definitely different, though.
“I’m in constant contact with [Wisner]. He texted me at the beginning of the summer, and we’re pretty good friends so that’s an awesome perk of running. The people you meet are often the people you’re friends with for a long time.”
Padgett’s still embracing the newfound weight on his shoulders, even if he doesn’t admit it. The weight of being one of the leaders and the best distance runner on the roster for the green and white this season is something he’s ready for.
He’ll just put a gleaming smile on his face and use his “hard-working mentality” to turn heads this season.
“This year, it’s about having a positive mentality and having a hard-work mentality, which is something that, for me, has always been a huge thing,” Padgett said. “I feel like I’ve been built on hard work, not necessarily natural talent.”
Head coach Ed Boardman would tell you differently, though.
“Genetics is a big thing,” Boardman said. “There are the people that have the ability to work, and there are the people that want to work and those whose bodies can handle the work. He’s all three. Put those three things together, and that’s what you get.”
It’s something that took a while to put together.
Padgett’s breakout came during his junior track season when he stunned the field with a gold in the District 3 3200, then finished on the podium a week later at states; his cross country campaign several months earlier was solid but left him wanting more.
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He knew he had to rework how he trained in the offseason, and part of that was keeping in constant contact with his coaches, especially Boardman.
Padgett texted the longtime head coach every day during the summer and asked what he could do tempo-wise, during sprints, in the gym — all in the pursuit of getting faster.
“Last year, from a personal perspective, I was kind of lackadaisical with my training,” Padgett said. “I wasn’t really too much into it or putting too much volume [into it]. Cross country is one of those sports where whatever you put into it you get out of it, so I think I got out of it exactly what I put into it last year, which was to me, not very much. I think this year I definitely feel a lot faster, a lot stronger than I did last year.”
Last year Padgett finished 69th (17:25) at the PIAA Cross Country Championships, well off the podium at Hershey. Coming off a strong summer, he’s hoping for major improvements on the hills he’ll run this fall — not necessarily in time but in placement.
“I would like to see myself winning Mid-Penn’s and maybe even possibly a district [championship], but if that doesn’t happen, I’d like to be in the top group,” Padgett said. “At states I want to get a medal — whatever that takes, wherever it puts me. I don’t really have any time goals this year just because, for me, place is more important than time.”
“Personally, I just want to do the best I can.”
The Mid-Penn boys cross country season kicks off this weekend. Get up to speed on who's back on each of the Sentinel-area teams with our preseason team capsules.
The Mid-Penn girls cross country season kicks off this weekend. Get up to speed on who's back on each of the Sentinel-area teams with our preseason team capsules.