Article by Hans /Photography by GeneX
It’s pretty rare for a new competitor to show up at Nationals apparently out of nowhere and be good enough to make the top five. But that’s exactly what 24 year-old Casey Daugherty of Lake City, Fla., did at the 2006 Nationals in Miami Beach.
Before the show, few people outside the Sunshine State had ever heard of Casey, a good friend of national-level heavyweight Kris Murrell. In fact, although she had been competing for six years, she had only qualified for Nationals the weekend before by winning the middleweight and overall at the NPC All South.
But after the weigh-ins on Thursday night, the word quickly went around Miami Beach that the girl with the green eyes and big smile could be a contender in her weight class, which happened to the light-heavyweights - the toughest of the show.
As soon as she walked onstage at the pre-judging at the Jackie Gleason Theater on Saturday morning, it was clear Casey was ready to compete at this level. At 5-foot-3 and 131 pounds, she was in great condition, with awesome shoulders, a tiny waist and a big, wide back. She made the second comparison and easily held her own against experienced national-level light-heavyweights like Angie Salvagno and Holly Geersen. In the end, she placed sixth, missing out on the top five by just one point. Even so, it was an extremely impressive national-level debut and one that establishes Casey as someone with a big future in women’s bodybuilding.
“I’m very, very happy,” she says the morning after the show in between photo shoots, clearly exhausted but exhilarated by everything that had happened to her over the weekend. “I’m only 24 and all the girls I was up there with had more experience than me. To place sixth at my first national show means a lot to me.”
Asked how she got into bodybuilding, Casey Daugherty replies without hesitation: “My dad!” Casey’s dad had been a minor league softball player when he was younger and also competed as a bodybuilder. As teenagers, Casey and her sister Tiffany - who was also in Miami as well as Casey’s assistant/stylist – followed in his footsteps. “All we did was play softball!” she says. It was while she was playing competitive softball in seventh grade that Casey starting lifting weights.
While some fathers might have worried about the idea of their little girl getting big, Casey says her dad couldn’t have been more proud. “I’m the son he never had!” she laughs. After graduating from high school, Casey received a softball scholarship to Lake City Community College but began to get more and more serious about lifting weights. When she approached her dad with the idea of taking it to another level and getting onstage, he could not have been happier. “He was all for it,” she says.
After doing a figure show in Tallahassee at the age of 18, and being told she was already too big, Casey decided her future was to be a bodybuilder. With the help of another mentor, Bryan "Byrd" Abbot (who passed away in 2005), Casey learned more about training and dieting and gradually added size to upper body to match her already big, thick legs. By last year, Casey was ready to take it to the next level. In April she and her boyfriend, Shaun Meeks, won the men’s and women’s overall titles at the Gateway Classic in Lake City, the first of three shows she did last year.
At the All South in November, Casey weighed in at 137 pounds and easily won the middleweights and overall. A week later, she was in ever better condition at 131. But – like most competitors competing at national-level for the first time - she still had no idea whether she was ready. She had seen pictures of competitors like Debi Laszewski and Elena Seiple but never stood next to them onstage, and admits to being a little intimidated when she saw them for the first time at the weigh-in. “I never thought I would be in the same class as them,” she says. “I was like, ‘I am going to get smoked!’”
Going into Nationals, Casey’s goal had been to make the top 15. It was only when she was called out for the second comparison of the light-heavyweights at the pre-judging that it occurred to her she had a shot at making the top five. Even then, she could not quite believe it. “I was very, very shocked when I heard my name be called out in the top ten,” she says.
A bank teller in Lake City (aka “The LC”), Casey also works as a personal trainer and teaches gymnastics and cheerleading. She plans to compete again at the USA in Las Vegas in July. In the meantime, she is working on getting her quads to match her hamstrings and bring up her biceps and triceps. She is also focused on getting her legs to come in leaner and harder and says she was especially impressed with Kristy Hawkins’s ripped legs at Nationals. “I love her look!” she says.
After doing so well at Nationals Casey is now more motivated than ever and will definitely be more confident at her next show. “It has taught me a lot and has definitely shown me where I stand,” she says. “Hopefully in 2007 I will be able to hang with the top five.”