Cassie Keeping didn't just break a school record, she left it in tiny pieces all over the floor of an Ohio stadium.
Keeping is a 23-year-old track and field athlete from Prince George who competes for Siena Heights University in Adrian, Mich. Recently, she and her teammates were in Ohio for the Findlay Indoor Classic and, while there, Keeping shattered the previous Siena Heights standard in pentathlon. By the time she had completed her five events, she had piled up 3,450 points. The old mark, set in 2000, was 3,299.
Keeping's record-setting performance also gave her the gold medal at the Classic. In an eight-athlete field, she finished well ahead of runner-up Kelly Morrison of the Windsor (Ont.) Lancers, who accumulated 3,356 points.
And here's the remarkable part about Keeping's record and gold medal -- she was doing the pentathlon for the first time in two years. The last time she had tried it, she suffered a broken foot.
"I didn't really expect anything at all," Keeping said of her return to the discipline. "My coach just mentioned [pentathlon] and said he didn't think I should give up so easily on it. So we went back to it and I stopped thinking. I just did what my body knows how to do and everything came together. It felt really nice."
The meet was held at the end of January. Pentathlon consists of the long jump, high jump, shot put, 60-metre hurdles and 800m run.
Keeping finished first in the long jump with a leap of 5.44m. In the high jump, she cleared the bar at 1.58m and placed second. Keeping considers shot put her weakest event but she still heaved her ball 9.36m, good for third place. In the 60m hurdles, she finished first in a personal-best time of 9.05 seconds. In the 800m run, she clocked in at 2:32.07 -- another PB -- and crossed the line in third spot.
Keeping's pentathlon result was also the best of the season in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). This weekend, she'll look to build on her success at the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference indoor championships, being held in Angola, Ind. And, from Feb. 28 to March 2, Keeping will attend the NAIA indoor nationals in Geneva, Ohio.
Keeping is a 2007 graduate of Prince George secondary school and is in her final year of a criminal justice program at Siena Heights. She's almost certain she'll stick around next school year as an assistant coach because, if she does, Siena Heights will pay her tuition when she begins work on her masters degree.
Long-term, Keeping plans to continue training, with an eye toward representing Canada in heptathlon at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. She was on the verge of competing in the 2012 Olympic trials in the 400m hurdles but was held out by a hamstring injury.
"I had no power and no endurance in my leg," she said. "It was probably one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever experienced. My time would have gotten top-six if I had an average-day race."