Northeast junior Mariah Casey made a splash when she entered the local high school track and field and cross country scene.
The sister of two-time state champion Morgan Casey, she placed 12th in the Class 1A state cross country meet as a freshman, won the Big East Conference title as a sophomore and placed sixth in the Class 2A state meet.
As a freshman, she placed sixth in the 1,500-meter run at the Class 2A track meet and 11th in the 3,000.
Her sophomore track season did not go as planned; she missed much of it because she needed surgery.
"I had to have surgery in my foot to remove an extra navicular bone," Casey said. "It's on the inside of your foot."
She watched her teammates compete at the Big East Conference meet, hosted by Northeast, from the stands with a cast on her foot and on crutches.
She was at the Schoolhouse Open on Tuesday in street clothes, cheering on her teammates. But this time, she was able to run back and forth to different spots on the course.
"It was really hard to watch," Casey said. "I'm so used to being out there and competing. It was nice to cheer on my team and everything, but it was hard to watch. I wish I could have been out there with them running and contributing. I think we're going to have a really good team this season."
She was cleared to run July 11 and is hoping to return soon to the cross country team.
"It's coming along really well actually," Casey said. "I'm hoping to be back within two weeks to a month. I feel pretty strong cardiovascularly and muscularly. But it's hard to get back into it."
Casey has been able to run some, but most of her work to fully recover has been other activities.
"Mostly it's cross-training, biking and swimming," she said. "That's been interesting because I really hadn't done it until my surgery."
While she is excited to return to competition, the level at which she'll be able to compete is up in the air for now.
"I have no idea where I'm really going to be," Casey said. "I just want to get out there and do the best I can. I'll see where I'm going to be at. I don't know if I'm going to be able to race in my spikes right away because I have instability in my ankle. Hopefully, I'll be able to come back and do something pretty good, at least contribute to the team."