Cassondra Hall has big Olympic hopes.
During a summer when most of her peers are probably relaxing after two semesters of schoolwork, Hall will be busy training and prepping for the Junior World Championships in Eugene, Oregon, a step which could get her closer to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The Northside track and field standout made headway toward that goal this spring, winning four gold medals at the GHSA Class AAAAA meet in Albany.
Hall shined in the 100, finishing slightly more than half a second -- about three yards -- in front of the second-place finisher. The sophomore also won the 200 and participated on Northsides winning 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Having led Northside to a third-place finish at the Class AAAAA meet, Hall is The Telegraphs All-Middle Georgia Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Shes definitely a special athlete, Northside girls track head coach Jessica White said. You dont have a lot of athletes (who) come through, especially in this area, like Cassondra. She works hard. And thats the reason why she is so good. Yes, she has the speed, but she works so hard to get better.
For Hall, it might be hard work, but its easy to do what she enjoys.
It feels good, and its a natural thing to me, Hall said. I have faith in what I do, so when I run, I work real hard and do what I have to do. I love to run. Im excited. Ive got to run.
Running barefoot outside came naturally to her, excelling from an early age at elementary school field days. The competitive thrill of winning blue ribbons transitioned into running track in middle school.
That led to Junior Olympics competitions throughout the country, winning national titles in the 100 and 200.
From the very first day I met her, all she talks about is track, White said. She lives it, she breathes it. ... For me personally, its a pleasure to be around someone like that. Its not very often you get a female athlete (who) comes through and does what shes done.
Hall spends time in the weight room, squatting up to 260 pounds, and keeps nutrition and good sleep habits in mind year-round. She watches the races of the late Florence Griffith Joyner before competing, trying to emulate her Olympic record-setting idol, all in hopes of getting to that same level.
Griffith Joyner set world records in the 100 and 200 in 1988 that are still standing.
As I go to the line and get ready to run, Im always focused between the lines, Hall said. I never focus on any of the other runners. Im focused straight ahead, I know its me, Im in my lane. Quick, quicker, and quickest to the line.