In his first season with Tennessee cross country, Casey has already proved himself an asset for the Big Orange, earning SEC Freshman of the Week during his collegiate debut and boasting the fastest time by a freshman during the SEC Championships this past weekend.
His early success, however, can’t be attributed to the traditional path of a college athlete. Despite his status as one of the top-ranked Irish runners, Casey didn’t grow up with the intention of running cross country in college.
“I only started running competitively about four or five years ago,” said Casey. “I was a part of a hurling team as a kid. It involved a lot of running, and I wanted to get faster, so I started running to train.”
Casey became increasingly serious about the traditional Gaelic sport, and as he got older, undertook running to stay in shape for matches. It wasn’t long, though, before his informal runs turned into competitive races.
As a member of the Ennis Track Athletic Club for five seasons, Casey’s athleticism flourished while training with the local team. He set a new U20 Irish record for the 10k and won bronze at the 2022 U20 European Cross Country Championships.
But with Ireland having few post-secondary school cross country opportunities and Casey’s graduation approaching, the best option for continuing to run was to move abroad.
“After secondary school, there’s not another level of running,” said Casey. “So I decided to come to the United States to continue. It’s such a high level, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
His ever-growing list of accomplishments caught the attention of Tennessee head coach Sean Carlson, and Casey reciprocated positive sentiments about UT after traveling to Knoxville for the first time. Once he saw Cherokee Farms Cross Country Course, he knew Tennessee was the right place for him.
“When I came to visit, I immediately fell in love with the trails,” he divulged. “Not only that, but the people are so welcoming.”
Casey officially signed with the Big Orange on January 24, 2023, and concluded his time with Ennis Track AC over the summer, transitioning to both a new country and a new team.
The Vols competed in two meets during September without Casey, but he certainly didn’t disappoint when he made his Tennessee debut at Pre-Nationals,…