It was quite a week for Ellie Heiden.
The Kamiakin junior-to-be got her driver’s license Tuesday, her braces off Thursday and flew to Austria on Saturday.
It was the perfect week to cap an amazing sophomore year during which Heiden earned first-team all-CBBN 3A honors in soccer and then won four gold medals at Star Track XXX in Tacoma.
Thanks to that stellar school year, Heiden is the Tri-City Herald’s female Athlete of the Year.
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“I think the best moments were when I was with the team,” Heiden said. “The thing I miss the most is being with those girls, having those conversations or getting each other pumped up.”
Joining Heiden as an athlete of the year is Connell’s Matt Hadley, who set the state career record for touchdowns (124) and points (746) during the football season. He also had strong seasons in basketball and track and field.
“There is nothing more I could have asked for,” Hadley said of his senior year. “It was a great close to a great high school career. A good close to a lot of memories with friends and teammates. A lot of memories I’ve had on the field, off the field; in the classroom, out of the classroom.
“It’s been a great ride, and I’m excited to start the next chapter in my life.”
Hadley starts college Monday at BYU. The Cougars require their freshman fall athletes to take three summer classes to help them adjust to college life.This fall, Hadley will play strong safety for BYU, a bit of a switch from his dominant position of running back.
“Being able to play both sides of the ball (in high school), I’ve come to love them both,” he said. “It’s not what I originally expected, but that is OK. The coaches at BYU know what they are doing, and I trust them. I’m just excited to play anywhere.”
Which is something he did at Connell. He led the Eagles to their second state football title in three years, including a stellar game against Cashmere in the state quarterfinals.
After being named The Associated Press Class 1A state player of the year for a third consecutive season, he transitioned into basketball, where he started throughout the season. Then he moved on to a track season during which he launched the fifth-longest throw in the javelin in the state for all classifications.
He came up short of a state title, but his season still has him contemplating a second sport in college.
“I’ve kind of wanted to see if I can do both at BYU,” he said. “Maybe walk on to the track team and throw. It was disappointing at the end of the season because I wasn’t able to win state, but it was still fun.”
Heiden had no such disappointing end to her season.
The speedy sophomore became the first Kamiakin female athlete to win four gold medals at one state track meet since Lindsey Johnson did it in 1999. Heiden took home titles in the 200 and 400 meters, and anchoring the 4x100 and 4x200 relays.
She only lost one race all season and finished with the best times in the state, regardless of classification, in the 400, 4x100 and 4x200.
To celebrate, Heiden took two days off relaxing in Seattle with family.
Now, she is in Europe playing soccer at the United World Games with teammate Lauren McKinney.
“It is going to be an adventure,” Heiden said of her first trip outside the United States. “I’m really excited. I’m really looking forward to the culture in Europe and meeting new players from the U.S. and getting to play against some tough competition.”
Being challenged this summer certainly could help this fall, as Heiden hopes her junior year is as charmed as this past one.