Kamiakin’s Ellie Heiden and her coaches made an interesting observation during practice this season.
When the star runner trails in a race, she actually does worse.
Her form gets all out of whack, her knees drive less and she has issues chasing down the opposition.
Good for her, then, that she rarely trails in races.
The junior won state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, as well as anchoring the 4x200 relay at the Class 3A State Track and Field Championships earlier this month in Tacoma.
The four gold medals give her 10 golds for her career and puts her on pace to tie the state record for most golds in a career, set by Blaine’s Cherish Morrison. If Heiden does win 14, it would be the most by any Class 3A or 4A athlete.
“I’m pretty excited about that,” she said at state track. “I’m trying not to think about state next year, just our first league meet and our first jamboree.”
Heiden’s big day earned her a second consecutive Herald All-Area Track and Field athlete of the year award.
Her victories in the 100, 200 and 400 were the first time a Class 3A or 4A girl had pulled that feat off since 2001 when Kamiak’s Heather Hetzer did it. It’s only been done once by a Tri-Cities athlete, when Pasco High’s Bree Skinner swept the three races in 2000.
“I’m so tired, but also so excited — it really hasn’t set in,” she said in Tacoma. “I still feel like I have some races left. It’s weird that the season is over.”
Heiden led a magical season for Kamiakin, which was considered perhaps the greatest track and field team in state history. Longtime media members at Star Track XXXI were hard-pressed to come up with a team that featured more depth than this year’s Braves.
Kamiakin not only had the talent, but backed it up at the state meet, crushing the competition to the tune of 118.5 points. It was the first time a large school team scored more than 100 points at state.
“It is like a big huge relief,” coach Cheryl Schauble said after winning state. “I’m so proud of these guys. These kids just love competing.”
For her part in the magical season, Schauble is the Herald’s All-Area Track and Field Coach of the Year.
Joining Heiden on the first team for Kamiakin are Kyra Brannan (200 meters), Megan Beauchene (1,600) and Elisa Grandemange (discus). Richland High, which won the regional title and tied for third at state, placed five girls on the first team, including Claire Aurand (100), Lauren Perry (800), Lindsey Bradley (3,200), Bridgette Underwood (javelin) and Elizabeth Quick (pole vault). Quick, who has signed to compete at the University of Washington in the fall, won state titles in the high jump and pole vault.
Also on the girls’ first team were Southridge’s Michelle Snider in the 100 hurdles, Hermiston’s McKenzie Byrd (shot put) and Jansen Edmiston (300 hurdles), Columbia (Burbank)’s Harley McBride in the high jump and Riverside’s Justyce Smith in the long jump.
On the boys side, Pasco High and Hanford led the way with three entrants each, including Pasco’s Christian Young (200), Zach Kreider in the discus and Ryan Best in the triple jump. For Hanford it was Ben Kelly (100), Seth Cook (800) and Aaron Cunningham (shot put). Also on the first team were Southridge’s Clay Gonzales (400) and Brenden Kelly (300 hurdles), Walla Walla’s Ben Wolpert (1,600) and Peter Sirmon (pole vault), Richland’s Michael Williams (3,200) and Payton Radliff (long jump), Sunnyside’s Elijah Pena (110 hurdles), Hermiston’s David Barnett (javelin) and Kamiakin’s Brendan Rexus (high jump).