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Amateur Athlete: Kassie Guglielmino

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. — The finish line is just a spot on a track, but crossing that line is something Kassie Guglielmino is very accustomed to.

“A rush,” Guglielmino said . “I don’t really know how else to say it. It’s like a rush.”

Guglielmino continues to seek out that rush. The self-described adrenaline junkie ran track for four years at Northport High School in Washington. In those four years, she won 12 individual state championships.

“I loved track, and I learned so much from it, Guglielmino said . “I feel like it was just really a step up in teaching me about myself.”

One of the things she learned was that she loved crossing that finish line whether on foot or on horseback.

“I wanted to be a jockey since I was a little kid,” Guglielmino said . “I grew up riding horses on a cattle ranch.”

She started as a jockey two years ago, her senior year of high school. 2014 is her first summer at Grants Pass Downs and she’s currently tied atop the leaderboard.

“First time I saw her ride, I knew she had the click,” Gary Morris, Sr., a horse trainer and owner, said. “Each rider’s got their own little way of handling horses, going around the turns, but she’s here to win.”

During the school year, Guglielmino is a full-time college student at Montana-Western, but during the summer, she’s a jockey.

“It’s a pretty killer summer job,” said Guglielmino. “I don’t think they get any better than this.”

Southern Oregon is just one of several stops on Guglielmino’s jockey tour this summer before starting her sophomore year in the fall.

“It’s just an adventure everywhere I go, and I have my horses so that makes it a lot more fun,” Guglielmino said.

She races on the weekends, and on weekdays she gets to rider her horses at a more relaxed pace.

“I get to ride them quite a bit,” Guglielmino said. “A summer job full of riding horses. I can’t complain about that.”

“She’s just out there, wants to work, has fun doing it,” agent Billy Christian said. “She’s fresh and loves the game.”

“She’s a classy, classy rider,” said Morris. ” There’s some good riders here. Don’t get me wrong, but Kassie is a little bit of a standout. I wish I could get her on every horse.”

Guglielmino runs nearly every race at Grants Pass Downs, which is reminiscent of her years in high school track.

“They’re much the same in a lot of ways,” Guglielmino said. “You just go out there and run your race, and that’s all you can do. I feel like the odds are all even when you step on the track. So you ride every horse like they’re a favorite, and that’s how I tried to run, too.”

That similar approach is yielding familiar results; first place finishes and that rush of adrenaline.