Cedar Creek High School track and field standout Nina Casselberry will compete in the high jump for Georgia Tech.
The 18-year old Mays Landing resident is looking forward to making the move south to join the Yellow Jackets’ NCAA Division I program in August.
“I’m super excited,” Casselberry said, whose virtual high school graduation ceremony was Thursday. “Georgia Tech has been my dream school for as long as I can remember. Jumping at Georgia Tech was something that didn’t seem possible because I haven’t been jumping that long.”
Casselberry grew up dancing and played volleyball all four years at Cedar Creek, but track is a relatively new sport for her. She joined the team as a sophomore and didn’t settle on the high jump until her junior season.
Coach Francine Raph said Casselberry gravitated to the event and blossomed.
“She kept excelling in volleyball. She started jumping out of the gym, and that fed into the high jump,” Raph said. “I think she’s just starting her ability. Once she gets amazing ACC Division I coaching, the sky’s the limit.”
Casselberry competed in only her second full season of the high jump during the 2019-20 indoor season.
“I thought she was going to shatter our school record (this spring), but unfortunately COVID (happened),” Raph said. “I wish I could have her back next year.”
Casselberry placed fourth last year at the outdoor Meet of Champions, third in the South Jersey Group II sectionals and second at the state Group II meet. Her personal best is 5 feet, 2 inches in competition and 5-5 in practice. She credits dance and volleyball for her ability to progress so quickly in the high jump.
“It’s one of those things that people find scary for some reason, going over a bar backwards,” Casselberry said.
As a high school volleyball player and a dancer for 12 years, she felt comfortable with it.
“It’s something I never get tired of,” she said.
With her senior season cut short, Casselberry is especially looking forward to getting four more years in the Atlantic Coast Conference. To prepare, she’s mostly running and doing core workouts on her own. Mike Pascuzzo, her coach at the jumping club Vertical Adventures, has given her sprint regimes as well.
She’s working on keeping light on her feet during her approach and making a smooth transition to the jump while driving up for more height.
At Tech, Casselberry will compete under head coach Alan Drosky as a preferred walk-on with a guaranteed roster spot. Drosky has led the program for the past 24 years.
A Yellow Jacket alum, Drosky competed in both track and cross country for Tech from 1985-1987. Most recently, he led the 2019 women’s track team to a 19th place ranking by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
The Atlanta school is a dream for Casselberry for reasons other than track. She’s wanted to be an aerospace engineer since the summer before eighth-grade when she and 29 other girls attended a week-long Tech Trek camp at Stockton University. Georgia Tech has the No. 2 ranked aerospace engineering program in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report.