‘It all felt right’
In the weeks after Casidi Pehler took her official visit to North Dakota State University during her recruitment process for track and field, the college remained at the front of her mind.
Pehler was preparing for other visits, but something kept drawing her back to the Division I college in Fargo, North Dakota — it felt like home.
Pehler solidified that feeling last Wednesday as she was surrounded by friends and family at Arcadia High School, signing her letter of intent in the Wanek Center gymnasium to join the track and field team at NDSU next fall.
“Right when I stepped on campus I just got good feelings from it and I had an amazing visit. Right away I was like, ‘I still have a couple more schools to look at.’ And then as the weeks went on, I just kept thinking about my visit at NDSU and the experiences I had there, and it just really felt right. .. I feel like my mind is telling me where I should be,” Pehler said.
Pehler enjoyed her conversations with the school’s coaching staff and team members, and she was impressed by the campus and community in Fargo. As she sat down to make a list of pros and cons, Pehler said she struggled to find anything negative about the college.
“It all felt right, and they have great resources where I really see myself being successful in that atmosphere.”
Pole vault will be Pehler’s top priority in college, but there could also be opportunities to compete in throws and other events in college. The senior said earning a commitment has been a “lifelong” dream.
Pehler is the defending Division 2 state champion in pole vault, and she has plans to defend that title this spring in her final prep season. Getting the college decision out of the way could clear that path, she thinks.
“I feel like now I kind of have the stressful part about where I’m gonna go, what my decision is going to be (over). And now I can really just enjoy it and just focus on playing the sport and not overthinking it,” Pehler said.
Pehler was quick to give others credit for her accomplishments, saying her coaches, teammates and other community members in Arcadia have helped her become a college athlete.
“I appreciate everyone who’s been there for me,” she said. “The community has been amazing, and I’m so thankful for everything that’s happened for me.”
Arcadia track coach Tim Braunschweig said it was exciting to see a number of schools across Division I, II and III reach out as they hoped to earn a commitment from Pehler.
Pehler started track and field part-time, splitting her sophomore season with another sport she loves in softball. After deciding to give track her attention full-time, Pehler’s growth in pole vault never slowed.
“When she committed to it then she really gave her heart and her time and effort into it and went for what she really wanted,” Braunschweig said.
Jim Hoesley, a 2016 Arcadia graduate, was the last Raider to earn a Division I commitment in track and field.
As for Pehler, Braunschweig said her athleticism combined with a relentless work ethic earned her a Division I opportunity.
“She’s a grinder. She’s a worker. When she wants something she sets her mind to it and she puts in the effort and she puts in the time when no one’s watching. That’s really what has helped her excel is her being accountable for her own actions and doing the little things. She did a lot of offseason pole vaulting, she’s in the weight room, she’s a three-sport athlete, which just helps with that overall athleticism and just staying in shape and stay moving. So I would just say that she does things when no one’s watching and that’s really her biggest strength.”