Morgan Casey - Griak 2011

Iowa State sophomore Morgan Casey runs Saturday, Sep. 24 at the Griak Invitational at the University of Minnesota.

Editor's note: Morgan Casey is a former Northeast cross country and track standout and now a sophomore runner at Iowa State.

The first semester is nearly over, and I don't even need one hand to count how many times I've sat down to write a blog. While this is sad, it's not nearly as unfortunate as the reason behind my lack of writing.

The day we left for Texas to race Big 12's, my teammate Emily called to tell me there was a fire at our apartment complex, and the bike rack went up in flames, but aside from that there was no damage to my apartment. Around 10:30, when Emily called and asked "Are you sitting down?", I knew it wasn't going to be good news.

Emily ventured across the street to see the damage and she found a second fire, this one in my bedroom wall. Initially I was stunned, but then I was grateful. By the grace of God, Emily was there at the right time to call 911 before too much of my stuff was destroyed.

Not only did she save much of my stuff, but my peace of mind as well. She went to my smoky apartment the next day and cleaned up a lot of my stuff that survived, saving me a lot of trouble and worry for when we returned to Ames.

Emily is a rock star, and through this experience I learned that there truly are more important things in life than things, and friendship is more meaningful than any one possession I could ever own.

And now for the silver lining in the cloud of smoke.

The same weekend Maddy and I became homeless, Iowa State women's cross country won its first conference title since the Big 8 became the Big 12. Victory was sweet, and we celebrated with some frozen yogurt, a tradition Indie and I started last year.

After the fire there were a number of things to be considered, but we chose to find a new place to live rather than be vagabonds for months waiting to get our old place back. There aren't very many places up for rent midway through the semester, so our options were limited, but we found a diamond in the rough in a little white house on Story Street.

The address seems fitting after what we have been through, and the house is an adorable old farm house that suits Maddy and I perfectly. We love our little gem, and now that we are all moved in we are excited to decorate and fill our little house with even more than we had in our old apartment. It's a definite upgrade. And it will be fun to go shopping for some new clothes too!

But for now my thoughts don't revolve around new clothes, or fires, or even physics for that matter. Right now it's about one thing, my team.

We are at the peak of our season, and in merely a couple of days it's all going to be over. Friday night we arrived in Terre Haute, Ind. for NCAA Nationals, which will take place Monday.

The season goes so fast, it's hard to imagine that it is already upon us, but now it's here, and we are ready. Last weekend we claimed the Regional title for the second year in a row, dominating the other teams by placing four girls in the top 10.

The energy of our team and our fan club at Regionals was undeniably the best ever, and it was the most fun I've ever had in a race. I know I have said that before, but this one truly takes the cake. I consider it my breakout race, and one coming with perfect timing. Our strong performance at Regionals moved us up to 7th in the rankings going into Monday's race. Naturally, we are looking to place higher than our ranking, and that's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

We are underdogs no longer, and this year there is a target on our back that wasn't there before. But this year we have a team that wasn't here before either. We have bigger goals to strive for, but we aren't running to chase a crazy dream, we are running for each other.

All of us are 100% committed to accomplishing big things at this meet. We have bought into the program, put in the work, and now it's just a matter of getting it done.

Seven of us will toe the line on Monday, but there are ten other girls on the team who have played a big role in making this happen. And it's going to happen. Before Big 12's and Regionals that was what we said. "It's going to happen." While there are some things, like house fires, that cannot be expected, this team is rock solid, steady, and stronger together. And whatever does happen there is one thing we can expect.

It's going to be good.