PENDLETON - The high school track and field season has been over for two weeks, but that hasn't stopped Pendleton's Brandon Caswell from hitting the track practically every day. Caswell isn't likely to slow down any for a while, at least not while he's training for the National Junior Disabled Sports Championships next month in Mesa, Ariz.
Caswell finished second at the Class 4 state track and field meet in the 400 and the 1,500-meter wheelchair events, but expects to have his work cut out for him in Arizona.
"I think it will probably be the best competition I've seen all year," he said.
Before leaving for Mesa Caswell wants to qualify in two more events, as he's already qualified in the 1,500, 5,000 and 400. Sunday he'll compete in Sandy to try and qualify in the 200 and 800.
Even though he does quite well in the shorter races, Caswell doesn't have any doubt as to which type of race he prefers - long. The longer the distance the more he enjoys it.
"It seems like the 1,500 is a lot harder because you have to go pretty fast," he said. "I like the long distance because it seems like my arm goes numb and I can keep it up. I can really feel it in the 1,500."
One of the people happiest to see Caswell having a good deal of success is Bucks' assistant track coach Nicole Stewart, who works with him almost every day.
"I was excited with how he did with state and setting personal bests," she said. "He is just the nicest kid."
Stewart has been around Caswell on the track enough to know that his ever-improving times aren't an accident, but instead are something that he's earned.
"He's probably the hardest working kid out here on the track," she said.
"I'm always having to shoo him off the track because he's doing extra intervals. I'm like 'that's enough. Practice is over.'"
One of the highlights of the season for Caswell was competing in front of packed stands in Hayward Field at the University of Oregon during the state meet.
"It was exciting," Caswell said. "The energy level was pretty high."
It was also at the state meet that other people got to see Caswell for the first time and were impressed with what they saw.
"When we were down at state he got tons of compliments," Stewart said. "Kacey McAllister, who set new state records, said Brandon made him really nervous and nobody ever made him work that hard before. They told him he should look at a professional career."
A professional career would suit Caswell just fine.
"That's something I'm training for now...the Paralympics," he said. "Just going to another country would be kind of cool."