WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Northside athlete Cassondra Hall holds school records in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes, and she's also been on relay teams that have set records. Big deal, you might say, but here's the catch: she's only a sophomore.
"I used to run barefoot a lot," Cassondra says. "People would say, 'Why does she run barefoot?' It's because I love to feel myself run. I love to feel the speed that I've got and love racing people."
Cassondra knew she loved to run from early on, when she won race after race at her school's field days. Her AAU coach, Ralph Taylor, met her when she was in middle school.
"She was telling me her idol was Florence Griffith Joiner," Taylor says. "From that point on, I knew there was something special in her."
"Flo-Jo, she's the fastest woman in the world," Cassondra says. "She holds the 100 meter record with a 10.49 (seconds) and the 200 meter record with a 21.33. She is brilliant. I look up everything about her, and for me to ever get relaxed in my race and to run really well, I look at her."
'Flo-Jo' passed away in 1998 after an epileptic seizure, but there's no doubt the star has had an impact on Cassondra. The sophomore is the defending state champion in the 100 meters, and in the 200 meters, she's the defending runner-up.
"She's a force to be reckoned with," Taylor says. "In the nation, she's in the Top 100. Not just high school, I'm talking about in the entire country."
And she hopes to represent her country in the 2016 Olympics.
"People are supporting me and giving me motivation, like, 'You can get there. You can do it. Keep God in your heart; keep him number one. Trust in nobody but God and you will make it,' Cassondra says, smiling ear-to-ear. "So I'm trying to make it in 2016. I hope to be there in South America."