Sewickley Academy runner Casale makes dream come true

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Saturday, April 14, 2018 | 12:54 AM


Thanks to a teammate who encouraged him to take up a new event, Sewickley Academy senior Sam Casale will continue his track career at the college he longed to attend.

Casale, of Ben Avon, committed to compete for the University of Chicago in the 2018-19 season.

“Last year, my friend and former teammate, Leo Harper, with my coach, suggested I try sprinting and it changed everything,” Casale said. “In the summer leading to my senior year, I saw a sharp increase in emails from college track coaches, most of them being from smaller (NCAA Division I) schools or (Division III) schools, particularly in the (University Athletic Association) conference.”

Casale was part of the boys 1,600-meter relay team that qualified for the WPIAL Class AA championship meet last season.

Sewickley Academy coach Derek Chimner expects him to make it individually in the 400 dash this season.

“Sam has grown tremendously,” Chimner said. “After testing himself in the different aspects of track and field, we were able to hone in on a (niche) for him in the 400m dash.

“With Sam's competitive nature, he found himself being pushed by Leo (and) was able to excel. He made a great impression on Coach Chris Hall at (Chicago).”

Casale said he has wanted to attend Chicago — an urban research university founded by industrialist John D. Rockefeller in 1890 — since the eighth grade.

“When I started researching potential colleges during my sophomore year, I kept stumbling upon (Chicago),” he said. “I always had some doubt in the back of my mind if I could ever get into such an amazing school.

“The first person I called after discovering I was accepted was the track coach.”

Casale hopes to make the most of his opportunity with the Division III Maroons.

“I am grateful I have four more years competing in a sport I owe so much to,” Casale said. “I intend to show my gratitude through my performance.”

Quaker Valley seniors Lucie Kubinski (Bucknell) and Audrey Durbin (Elon) committed to Division I programs after shining in track and cross country since they were freshmen.

“We are excited to have Audrey joining our (track and cross country) program,” Elon cross country and assistant track coach Kevin Jermyn said. “We believe Audrey has the ability to develop into (a) conference scorer on the track and a scoring runner for our cross country team, as well.”

Quaker Valley track coach Jerry Veshio said both girls have the work ethic that should help them at the next level.

“They have (the) base,” he said.

Said Kubinski: “I hope to continue to improve and make a difference.”

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.

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